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Full text of "Omni Magazine (January 1986)"




VOL. 8 NO. 4 




Kansas City photographer 
Michael Radencich and designer 
Steve Hayes collaborated 
on this picture, commissioned 
by Opti-Copy- Concepts 
begin in the mind, travel to the 
eye, and then Hash through 
bars of condensing lenses to 
produce an image on film. 





Pamela McCorduck 













Richard Levine 




Bill Lawren 




James and Alcesis OcC'Ci 



The Arts 

Philip J. Hilts 



Data Bank 




Edward Regis. Jr. 




Greg Bear 




Kathleen McAuliffe 




Barbara Rowes 


SAM AND Tf-iF BANZAI -■:.,' NN I- l-i 


Dean Ing 



Ignoble Prizes 

Frank Kendig 




Judith Hooper and 
Dick Teresi 



Lew Allen 

Ron Schultz 



UFOs, etc. 



Contest Preview 




Kjell B. Sandved 




Scot Morris 




Parker Bennett 



■ By Parneiav Mp : CordtJck- ■ ■ 


■our democracy -are-. - 


concerned -about the ' ' 

dangers that : - ■■ 
- computers- pose "to our 
'-civil liberties * 

,: ''I !■■!■'■. ■ ■-!■ ■■ ■Hi.! 1 „l... ■ , I. '■■■ 

types that we build computei ■ i ■ ■ 
in our own 

rend to be as hierarchies; as ire rrranaoe- 
en v/i if !..■! ih.ine frorr, Dlg.-rai Lcm-j 

iiiorvseemrriore democrahc. 

inarch ic. ■ 

;ciorn holds not only "or 
for softwa/e, loo. Programming, 
reflect tne.ir surroundings, 
whether science (Fori ran), business i'Cooom, 
'.ar : eiementafy : schcol jt.ogo'i. A program 
. control structure called the -blackboard, 
.widely used \r artificial rit&MJgence,- partic- 
ularly, in the fierd of expert systsrTis. was 
.conceives in the consensual ■ not 

computer-science- department in the 
example ci a;:, star--.' 

.-or written. 

■ the software suggests the ultimate . 
■bureaucracy: a facile, cc-apiy giiion . 

of functions and processes that evade:; 
all human a. 

■3cwe : have crioices We can design, 
computer- structures In many ways. 

■There's speculation,' then, fhat new ... 
. cgmpuier systems wi!i revo-'LiiJori-ze-Soviei:-' ■ 
society along more democmhe lines.'-' To 
■compete miiiiariiy or ceoi-omicaiiy. ■:■; Western 
argument gees. She Soviets mus; under- 
take, a massive computer-za;or! of theit 
economy and culture, 'bieargumem 
continues that, the Sovie* bureaucracy Will 
become increasingly dece.^atzed as 
information p^cessnq power is cfeinbutec 
among lt;e people. Ths ciiange will intro- 
duce contrary forces to a culture that prices 
centralization and secrecy 

In the long run, mavoo. Mean^hiiu. the 
SovJSLSwij; design compuSsf' systems- ■ 
1 ■ i 1 '! '''ve ri'ii ini is juo .1 , in ■ .. r>: 
o> mischief io be scoc;- pitched by 
computerizing lotai'tanan practice Is lame 
and not .at- a!! pretty 

■ -in the Un|tecf States sucb.exeesses 
.seem equally apparent. Many in our 

I'"-- '■ '.-. : .■!■ . :■,■■■. 1 ■ ■ ,.i Mi"! 

the dangers ihar computers pose to our ■■'■".■ - 
oryi! liberties. But with- care we can design 

cfthe peoole. where t!is Founding Fathers . 
placed "i here's :y\. ;,,■■■,., ; ... 
Even, with life best will in the worid .we shall 
semeii'.Tes rail oecause we s;moly cannot 
i thai anv complex ' ' 
system .can c 

m m . \ I • .;... 1 ..- ,. ... ;,';. 

design and ;: 
never-ending process. 
. Computer structures are generally meant 
to be provisions- 1 . Tma mutability rejects 
Ihe realities of life, me Const; luron itself was 
aooptod'with means buitin for-runner ' 
-change not 
easily or capr : c;ou8 ; y accomplished but 
possible nonetheless (Thomas Jefferson: 
in laer, thought thai tire Constitution oucshi 
to.be rewritten every 19 years because he 

Computa'ipn is nothing more or less, than-' ' 
understanding, designing, and improving-. ■ . 
Itl :Q '. ' . 

we come io a better grasp-o? whai a 
symbolic pmcess is, woshail be aoie to 
improve and .refine the democratic process, 
just as we've improved mechanical proce- 
dures we came to understand.' 

■We have much to team here, but some 
early examples are heartening. Cooperation- ■ 
■i--Oi-.;-: uolenlists at fv!!T and'diplomatsar- 
' the United Natrons showed iOO disputatious.-- ■■■; : 
countries: many with widely differing- Inter-' ■ , -t 
ests. toagree at last on the tair distribution ; 
of returns fromseabeo mining. What ■ 
made the negotiations and tne resultant :■'.'..■'. 
treaty possible was a- computer simulation' 
-. that outlined" the various assumptions . -/;'; 
and diplomatic scenarios. Researchers" ., 
be'teve'thal such uses of computer. .'..-. 
technology will permit altogether, different ■'.' 
kinds of voting benavior that will ga.beyohd ■ - 
simple -yes-or-no votes. Why not weighed 
votes.. maybe votes, ii-and-only-ii votes?: : , '..'■'■; 
Why notarveasy whal-ir exercise for voters'- ■' 
that allows i.hem fose 
before they commit the ir.se iyes? . . 
Vet . if the'.underlying. premises ofoui-:-' ■■■/. 
■ democracy are to be preserved, 'three;- ' : '- '-.■ ' : "' 
" conditions^ must exist !.o safeguard'them..-..; :.'.'■. 
li'om computerized- abuses. The. first .is legal: .. 
'.sanction, and that we already have, it is" ■ 
der ■■ 

specific legislation will needro.be redrawn ■' ■ 
as the technoicgydemands.' The. second' ■■ ".'; 
condition is Both our -fraimes. ; . . ' 

and our malice will havelGbe-addressed. 
by Ingenious design. We cart achieve :' ' 
perfection, but we can come closer. ' 

These two condition's- do' not matter; '■' ...■."<' /■.' 
without thethird. which. is community 
consensus—a wideiy shared view thai -.-.'. ,' 
individual liberties and demooralie 
processes are worth prgiectlng'ror.atl of -us ' 
andnotjusttor'someof us. At the same.', 
time^ hsroic. ef torts on bohalf of !he':'very few- '■ 
at theexpense, even *othe detriment, 'of- 
ihe many (in cflmihal justice, say:' or in'- 
■nedicine) raise issues.oftraae-offsrTrade- '-' 
olfs have always beena' fact ofgrdwhrup ■ ''■ 
ioj but comou'ers can holp us examine 
them more meliGtitousJyana enable us to 
ma;<e reasonable choicest 

Nothing stops us from building a lust, 
■open, and generaiiy honorable set or 
compute.' systems' for any of our democratic . ''■-; 
piocesses. Nothing inherent in. computer . .. 
.technology.compeisus to reconstruct • ' . ■'.-.■' 
in electronic form the Byzantine bureaucrat 

1 a' ' ov : ervo ; us vi il ■■ ; |he 
Founding.'Fathers die. we can aim iorujus! ■ <' 
arid secure future,' leaving room for'- .-.'".' . 
remedies wnen we fail—as rait' we 
sometimes must. .We need-dniy- Enfe: vision 
and tre ill DO 

Pamela McCo ; o/r-i's-'The 

UriEversai Machine, pubiisliea by McGmw- .:'■■'■' 
HiH. She also mole Mrrcnines VV'io Think'a«d/s [ 
s' coauthor of i ■! ii : ■ i.-m \ ■; 




□ o you know the laws of heaven? 
Can you loose ihe cords of Orion? 
Can you bind the beautiful 
Pleiades? These are ancient questions, first 
posed to Job and pondered in some form 
or another ever since. But if musing on 
the meaning of the universe is a legacy from 
the past, il is only today that the answers 
are becoming clear. 

This year we'll see Voyager 2 hurtle 
toward Uranus, unraveling the mystery of 
that planet's strange rings and unique 
magnetic field. The Galileo spacecraft will 
explore the vast magnetosphere of Jupiter, 
while its companion, Ulysses, pole-vaults 
the sun. And a squadron of international 
ships are converging on Halley's Comet, 
which this month will fly by the earth. 

When Haliey's Come! passes, of course, 
it will be about 35 million miles away. But 
some scientists live in fear of the day a 
comet comes directly to Earth. According 
to Arizona geologist David Roddy, about 70 
craters are thought to have been gouged 
out of the earlh by impacts from extrater- 
restrial bodies. In "Closest Encounters" 
(page 36) writer Edward Regis, Jr., intro- 
duces the scientists charting these errant 
projectiles and reports on their efforls to 
head off potential disaster. "There have 
been two major land impacts in the twentielh 
century, both in Russia," says Regis. 'Aster- 
oid hunting isfi't just an academic exercise," 

Comets and asteroids couid bring on 
the apocalypse. But according to Lew 
Allen, director of the prestigious Jet Propul- 

10 OMNI 

sion Laboratory, in Pasadena, California, 
Ihese relics from the formation of the solar 
system might yield dues to the secret of 
genesis as well. In this month's Interview 
(page 78) Allen reviews the fiery history of 
liie solar system and then outlines plane- 
tary missions for the decades lo come. Not 
only does tie take us on a mission to 
Saturn's moon Titan, he also teases us with 
the possibility of trips to planels light- 
years away. "In light of the Voyager 2 
encounter with Uranus and the operations 
of the international Halley missions, the 
focus of the world will be on JPL." says 
interviewer Ron Schultz. "I felt it was impor- 
tant to speak with the person ultimately 
responsible for the future of America's 
planetary explorations." 

While Allen worries about the destination 
of tomorrow's astronauts, physician Bill 
Thornton takes on the difficult problem of 
zero-g life-style and health. Doctor to 
the astronauts, Thornton is tackling the 
annoying problem of spacesickness, and 
he has also developed a treadmill for 
exercise in zero-g. According to author 
Barbara Rowes, who chronicled these 
accomplishments in 'Jogger on Ihe High 
Road" (page 52), "It was difficult getting to 
Bill Thornton. But after cutting through 
NASAs red tape, I discovered a brilliant 
and passionate man." 

Thornton is committed to the study of life 
in space. In "Mind Menagerie" (page 74) 
authors Judith Hooper and Dick Teres/ take 
us on an inner journey through the psycho- 

logical outback of multiple personality 
disorder. The piece, excerpted from their 
new book, The Three-Pound Universe, 
examines the strange world of M. M. George 
(for Mary, Monica, and George). 

"Marion wrote to me after I had written 
an article about multiples," Hooper explains. 
"Marion was the 'core' person. In our corre- 
spondence she told me about her other 
personalities. Mary is artistic and depressed; 
Monica is domestic. George is the perpet- 
ual adolescent. Ginny is a six-year-old 
orphan whom George adopted. All these 
personalities contributed to the life experi- 
ence of M. M. George." 

The realm of multiple personality is, to 
say the least, bizarre. But science can 
be just plain silly, as well. For example, one 
research team claims that peanut butter 
is carcinogenic. And two physicists have 
studied the screeching quality of chalk. In 
our annual salute to the jokesters of 
science, Omni announces its awards in 
"Laurels (and Hardys)," on page 68. 

And in the pictorial "On the Wings of 
Wind" (page 44) Henri Werle, of France's 
Aerospace Research Institute, exposes the 
invisible world of eddies and swirls. 

Finally, this month's ficlion includes Greg 
Bear's "Tangents" (page 40), about a 
scientist tampering with the fourth dimen- 
sion. Bear's last Omni story, "Dead Run" 
(April 1985), will be aired on CBS's Twilight 
Zone this year. And Dean Ing spins a high- 
tech yarn about a race-car driver in "Sam 
and the Banzai Runner" (page 60).OO 

This shot of Comet West is just one of the many spectacular 
photographs you'll enjoy in Solar System . 


Where can you go to discover what happened to the 
second, miniature sun our solar system once had? To 
visit the nightmarish landscapes of Saturn's moons? To 
explore an immense, unknown planet orbiting the sun 
that's capable of causing mass extinctions on Earth? 

The editors of Time-Life BOOKS present Solar System , 
a book that will take you on a fascinating journey far 
beyond the reaches of your imagination. Full of 
exclusive color photographs and specially commis- 
sioned art. Solar System will show you many sights 
you've never seen before, and Halley never dreamed 
of, including the incredible birth and probable death 
of our own planet. 

And Solar System is just the beginning of the won- 
ders you will discover in the Planet Earth series. 
From there, you can go on to unlock other 
mysteries of the Earth. You'll see whole 
areas consumed in Volcano, the 
world transformed in Continents in 
Collision , and secret caverns 
revealed in Under g round 
Worlds . 

Simply mail the attache 
card or coupon .You'll 
receive- Solar System 
for a ID-day free 
nation period. Keep 

it and pay just $13.95 ($16.95 in Canada) plus shipping 
and handling. Or send it back with no obligation. 
Future volumes come one about every other month, 
each with the same 10-day free trial. Keep only the 
books you want. Cancel any time. 

Send in the card today. Halley never had a chance to 
explore so much about the cosmos. Make sure you 
don't miss your opportunity for discovery. 







13 OMNI 

III Wind 

T. A. Heppenheimer's column on wind 
energy [Earth, October 1985] contained 
many points that I consider erroneous, 
lite its small scale, there is nothing 
meager about wind energy. Wind farms have 
gone from producing 10,000 kilowatt- 
hours in 1981 to 650 million kilowatt-hours 
in 1985, enough to meet the residential 
needs of a city the size of Sacramento. 

While the costs of nuclear power— the 
most heavily subsidized of all energy 
sources — are going up, those of wind 
energy are steadily decreasing as the 
technology becomes better understood. 
. As for the noise created by wind farms, I 
lind it difficult to hear wind turbines in 
operation from a distance of more than a 
quarter of a mile. Wind energy — which 
is far less destructive to the environment 
than conventional energy sources — is 
a new and promising domestic, pollution- 
free energy source that is destined to benefit 
all Americans. 

Thomas O. Gray 

Executive Director 

American Wind Energy Association 

Alexandria, VA 

Kiddie Burnout 

This is the first time I have ever agreed with 
Dr. Benjamin J. Spock. His article "Kids 
and Superkids" [Mind; October 1985] was 
right on the button. I have felt tor some 
time that many young children are being 
pushed too hard academically. This could 
be a major factor in child stress and suicide. 

I decided that it was a little too much 
when my own second-grader was being 
taught algebra, had no Iree playtime, 
and had only 20 minutes for lunch. I trans- 
ferred her to a rural school, where she 
wasn't under as much pressure. There's 
since been a visible change in her attitude: 
She's less nervous, much happier, yet 
still gets good grades. 

The real reasons behind the push for 
fast-lrack schooling are parents, teachers, 
and administrators who are pumping up 
their egos and padding their resumes — at 
the expense of the children. 

Dwight W. Elkin 
Katy, TX 

It's Elementary 

Omni's seventh-anniversary issue neglected 
an opportunity to cite another important 
seven: the seven-year-old child — and 
all the other children — who attend elemen- 
tary schools (as well as nursery schools 
and day-care facilities). 

It was absurd not to include elementary 
schools in your list of "77 schools of the 
future" ["Visions ol Classes to Come," 
October 1985]. Your panel of 28 "distin- 
guished and diverse" experts failed to 
include even a single individual from the 
world ot elementary education, the most 
universally attended level of schooling. 
Between pre-kindergarten and eighth 
grade an average child will spend over 
9,000 hours in the classroom, which is more 
than the total time spent in high school 
and college combined. 

On October 3, 1985, U.S. Secretary of 
Education William J. Bennett designated this 
academic year as the Year of the Elemen- 
tary School, and he appointed a 21-member 
study group on elementary education, of 
which I am pleased to be a member. We 
must all begin to view the levels of schooling 
as a continuum and not as a hierarchy. 
We must also recognize the dignity ot the 
grade school, which is the foundation for all 
learning and which can provide models 
for improving education at all levels. 

Allan Shedlin, Jr. 

Executive Director 

Elementary School Center 

New York 

Editors' note: We agree that the importance 
of elementary education has long been 
underestimated. And we did consider 
including elementary schools in our survey 
ol schools of the future. But in the course 
of our research we found that most of 
the information on trends in education relates 
to secondary schools. Because educators 
seem less familiar with the performance 
levels of specific grade schools, an in-depth 
investigation could easily take years to 
conduct. We feel that Secretary Bennett's 
newly created Elementary School Recogni- 
tion Program will foster greater public 
awareness of the need for quality education 
at all levels — including preschool.OO 



Omni we/comes speculation, theories, 
commentary, dissert!, and questions from 
readers in this open forum. We invite you 
to use this column to voice your hopes 
about the future and to contribute to the 
kind of informal dialogue that provokes 
thought and generates breakthroughs. 
Please note that we cannot return submis- 
sions and that the opinions expressed here 
are not necessarily those of the magazine. 

Celestial Salvalion — or Suicide? 

Your interview with Robert Jastrow 
[September 1985] angered me greatly. The 
American taxpayer could be saved the 
burden of paying billions of dollars for star- 
wars research If the U.S. government 
made a simple declaration to the USSR 
that we will use our nuclear arsenal against 
them only in retaliation. After all, isn't the 
present nuclear buildup the direct result of 
our paranoia? 

The only way to pay for Jastrow's 
proposed Strategic Defense Initiative [SDI] 
is to keep the presses rolling at the treas- 
ury; the only ones to gain from the star- 
wars extravaganza are the banks and big 
businesses. Refusal of a first strike would 
let the Soviets — and the rest of humanity — 
relax and would spare present and future 
generations of American taxpayers a 
multibillion-dollar nightmare. 

Sally Moore 

Robert Jastrow's unique insight clearly 
qualifies him as an expert on the Strategic 
Defense Initiative, and his interview with 
Omni was the most enlightening piece of 
journalism about star wars ever published. 

I am bothered by peace proponents 
who vilify Jastrow, when in fact his aim is ■ 
the same as theirs; the elimination of nuclear 
weapons. SDI holds the promise of making 
nuclear weapons obsolete.' If— as its 
critics claim— star wars is so unworkable, 
why are the Soviets so opposed to it? 
Evidence indicates that the USSR has been 
conducting its own antisatellite-weapons 
research for some time. The SDI will enable 
us to negotiate with the Soviets from a 
position of strength, which is the only..stance 
the leaders of that country understand. 

14 OMNI 

Pope John Paul II warned that nuclear 
proliferation could lead to an inescapable 
path of global destruction. The Soviets, 
meanwhile, have tried to "off" him. 

We, the people of the United States, in 
order to form a more perfect union, would 
like to leave our children with a world free 
from the fear of mutually assured deslruc- 
tion. Jastrow's ideas on the Strategic 
Defense Initiative do much lo point the way. 
Neal Kenny 

. (.appreciate Jastrow's credentials, and my 
horizons have been broadened by his 
writings. But I disagree profoundly with his 
support of the SDI proposal. 
. Jastrow should be throwing the weight of 
his unique and considerable knowledge 
behind defusing the threat of global conflict, 
not promoting it. Mew toys of destruction 
simply beget more toys of destruction. We 
need such people as Jastrow to remind 
and inspire us about the significance of life 
on this planet. The last thing we need is 
a highly influential individual telling us thai 
the answer to our problems is more war 
toys that go bang in the sky. 

Considering Jastrow's acknowledged 
depth of understanding of our already 
tenuous place in the universe, I'm rather 
astounded at his provincial position. 

Barry Peterson 
Gabriola Island, B.C. 

As a scientist, I am appalled by the kind of 
misleading baloney that we have seen in 
(he Sepromlier Interview. It should be 
the obligation of technically literate people 
to be honest with the nontechnical public. 
Otherwise, the public will eventually uncover 
this dishonesty and there could be an 
anti-science-and-"echro,oyy backlash. 

Robert Jastrow describes star-wars 
weapons as if 'they actually exist and need 
only a few bugs worked out before they 
are put into the arsenal of democracy. The 
fact is that most of them exist only as 
computer models or as small laboratory 
test devices. Anyone who has followed 
weapons technology since 1945 should be 
aware of the frequency staggering discrep- 
ancies between projected and actual 

development time, costs, and performance 
of new weapons systems. 

Furthermore, Jastrow implies that the 
problem of SDI computer error will be 
a snap to solve. In reality, the computer 
programming for star-wars defense will be 
an immense task. An example of this 
problem can be seen in today's space 
shuttles; which — despite their sophistication 
and frequent use — are not immune to 
occasional software problems. Jastrow 
also fails to point out that the SDI cannot be 
completely tested except in an actual 
nuclear war. 

Although it is desirable to do some 
research on missile detense, the state of 
the current SDI technology does not justify 
the "Manhattan Project" state of mind that 
seems to be sweeping the country. 

William Lowell Morgan 

Lawrence Liver more National Laboratory 
Liver more, CA 

Undoubtedly, the human race is at a cross- 
roads. Now is the time — once and for 
all— to set aside this barbaric business of 
nuclear superiority. Nobody wants to drop 
the bomb— at least not anybody with 
something to lose. In these times of nuclear 
proliferation, doomsday would not begin 
as an act of war but rather as an act of 
terrorism or as some irreversible mistake. 

So how do we choose the right road 
to take? How do we eliminate our present 
defense system without becoming 

I propose that we develop the Strategic 
Defense Initiative in partnership with the 
Soviet Union, Working side by side we 
could forever end the threat of nuclear war. 

What better bargaining chip could we 
have with the Soviets fhan cooperation? 
Perhaps such a partnership would lend itself 
to further collaboration in such fields as 
medicine, whereby we could perpetuate life 
instead of threatening to destroy it. 

Once star wars was deployed, the threat 
of 'nuclear war would be forever behind 
us. One never knows— SDI may someday 
protect us from alien species bent on 
the obliteration of our precious planet. 

Barbara Backman Ferroni 
Drexel Hill, PAOd 


■By Richard Levine 

Stefan Golab, a sixly-one -year- old 
Polish immigrant, was one of a 
corps of aliens working in "the 
room" at Film Recovery Systems, Inc., a 
now defunct company in Elk Grove, Illinois. 
The room was choked with hydrogen- 
cyanide gas, which billowed up to burn the 
faces and catch in Ihe throats of employ- 
ees as they labored over 140 large, uncov- 
ered vats. Each vat was filled with 1 ,000 
to 1,500 gallons of a cyanide solution used 
to extract silver from old film. 

On February 10, 1983, Golab suffered an 
attack oi acute cyanide poisoning and 
convulsed to death in the Film Recovery 
canteen. A police officer arriving on the 
scene said that breathing near the vals was 
like inhaling ammonia. The coroner's report 
noted that the almond scent of cyanide 
rushed from the body during autopsy. 

Many of Golab's co-workers suffered the 
same chronic symptoms exhibited by 
Golab before his dramatic collapse— dizzi- 
ness, nausea, and a severe skin rash. 
They knew that work in the room was making 
them sick, but as one worker put it, "We've 
worked in smelly factories before." 

After Golab's death, a Cook County, 
Illinois, grand jury charged Film Recovery 
executives with willfully concealing the 
hazards from workers. And in a nonjury trial 
that lasted from April 15 to June 14, 1985, 
Cook Counly Circuit Judge Ronald J. R 
Banks convicted three of Film Recovery's 
key executives of murder. On July 1 , 
Judge Banks sentenced each of the men — 
Steven J. O'Neill, former president; Charles 
Kirschbaum, plant supervisor; and Daniel 
Rodriguez, plant foreman — to 25 years 
imprisonment. The decision is under appeal. 

According to Jay C. Magnuson, one of 
the prosecutors for the state of Illinois, 
"It's the first case we know of in which 
executives have been found guilty of murder 
in an industrial death." But if Magnuson 
and other law-enforcement officials have 
their way, it won't be the last. The state 
of Illinois is already prosecuting another 
worker-safety case. And other states and 
labor groups now say they may also prose- 
cute executives who create work condi- 
tions that endanger lives. 

The recent trial, moreover, has cast 
doubt on the adequacy of worker-safety 

uninformed workers on the factory floor. 

laws and the cloui of the Occupational 
Safety and Health Administration fOSHA). 
The major problem, say prosecutors like 
Magnuson, is the lack ot stringent nationwide 
right-lo-know laws requiring employers to 
inform workers of hazards on the job. 

Back in 1980, just before he left office, 
President Jimmy Carter tried to push through 
such a law. But his effort was stymied by 
lobbyists for the Chemical Manufacturers 
Association (CMA). Then, when Ronald 
Reagan, with his distaste for federal 
regulation, was voted into office, he had 
the Carter proposal withdrawn. During the 
next year, he also stripped OSHA of its 
power to conduct meaningful inspections, 
levy significanl fines, or assess the 
dangers of untested chemicals. 

By 1982, in an effort to offset Reagan's 
approach to toxic matenas in the workplace, 
some 24 states passed local right-to- 
know laws. But because these laws varied, 
manufacturing operations were thrown 
info disarray. A manufacturer shipping to, 
say, ten different states had to comply 
with ten different sets of standards for 
packaging, shipping, and transporting. By 
1982 the cost and administrative hassle 
drove CMA itself to lobby the White House 
and Congress for a federal right-to-know 

It got much of what it wanted when a 
new Hazard Communication Standard took 
effect last fall. That standard preempts 
stricter state laws and leaves the manufac- 
turing executives with "primary responsibil- 
ity" for determining what poses a 
workplace hazard. Moreover, because only 
manufacturers, not employers who simply 
use the chemicals, must alert employees to 
on-site dangers, as many as 60 million 
workers remain unprotected. 

A Washington, D.C. -based organization 
called the Public Citizen Health Research 
Group has recently joined some 15 state 
agencies to fight the new federal standard. 
But what protection do workers have 
today? They can ask their own state prose- 
cutors to follow the lead of Ihose in Illinois, 
taking executives to criminal court. Federal 
law does permit criminal prosecution 
when an employer has willfully disregarded 
worker protection and death results.OQ 


By Bill Lawren 

It started as a simple construction project 
but ended as an unexpected trip into a 
dim corner of the human past, in 1983 a 
water company in the northern Chilean 
town of Arica began building a new pipeline 
through a vacant lot adjacent io its 
downtown property. But as the company's 
backhoe blade bit into the dry, sandy 
soil, it uncovered a starting ; ird: \he remains 
of an exquisitely preserved, 8,000-year- 
old mummy. 

Three years later careful analysis of that 
mummy — and the 100 others evenlually 
found at the same site — has challenged one 
of anthropology's rnos-. cherished ideas. 
Ever since the discovery of Egypt's 
renowned mummies in the nineteenth 
century, researchers have believed that 
only highly elaborate civilizations were 
capable of the intricate and demanding crafl 
of mummification. But the Arica mummies 
were prepared not by a centralized, 
ultradeveioped state like that of the 
Egyptians or Incas. but by a humble, semi- 
isolated hunter-gatherer society known 
as fhe Chinchorro. 

'As far as I'm concerned," says Marvin 
Allison, the University of Tarapaca anthro- 
pologist who analyzed the Arica mummies, 
"this discovery is evidence that statecraft 
and mummification don't necessarily go 
hand in hand." 

The Chinchorro culture first came to light 
in 1917, when German anthropologist Max 
Uhle discovered a small group of mummies 
on a deserted beach north of Arica. 
Extrapolating from tools and other artifacts 
found with the mummies, Uhle described 
a culture of fishermen and sea lion hunters 
who lived along the coast in small, closely 
knit family groups. He named them 
Chinchorro, after the beach on which the 
mummies had been found, and estimated 
that the oldest was about 5,000 years 
old, roughly contemporaneous with the 
oldest mummies found in Egypt. 

But it took the water-company bulldozer 
to trigger the research effort thai would 
recognize the true significance of Uhle's 
early discoveries.. In his lab-Allison analyzed 
the newly uncovered mummies and found " 
that many had been naturally preserved — 
buried and then serendipitously protected 

by the drying action of the hot sand. But an 
equally substantial number had been 
carefully treated by human hands: Internal 
organs had been removed; the bodies 
had been rebuilt with dirt and vegetable 
matter; and the preserved skin had been 
sewn tightly over the matting. Faces were 
then covered with brightly painted clay 
masks, each with highly individualized 
features presumably depicting the visages 
of the departed. 

The Egyptians, Allison knew, had 
organized agriculture so efficiently that its 
people could have enough food year- 
round while working only during the growing 
season. Thus they had the leisure time to 
refine the art and science of embalming. 
But, he contends, hunter-gatherer societies 
like the Chinchorro typically spent almost 
all their waking hours throughout the year 
searching for food. How, then, did the 
Chinchorro find enough leisure time to 
develop the craft of mummification? 

The answer. Allison decided, lay in the 
Chinchorro 's fortuitous location on the 
Chilean coast. "This area was — and still 
is — incredibly rich in seafood," he says. "In 

Digging tor the roots of embalmment. 

an hour the Chinchorro could probably get 
all the food they needed for an entire day. 
In that sense," he concludes, "abundance 
took the place of statecraft." 

Many anthropologists, however, disagree 
with Allisons belief that most hunter- 
gatherer societies lackeo esure time. Betty 
Meggers, a cultural anthropologist at the 
Smithsonian Institution, explains that the 
equal distribution of work with in" hunter- 
gatherer societies created periods of free 
time. "Members of a tribe would work 
together and then relax together," she says. 
The real question for Meggers is why — in 
a society without a stratified or hierarchical 
pecking order — some individuals were 
mummiiied and others were not. 

Allison hypothesizes that the selective 
mummification reflected the Chinchorro's 
marine economy. Some members of the 
tribe were better fishermen than others. 
When those individuals died, they were 
mummified so that their extraordinary or 
magical powers would be preserved and 
transmitted to the living. Unlike the 
Egyptians, whose mummification process 
grew out of a desire to provide a home 
for the soul of the deceased, the Chinchorro 
made mummies to preserve the dead 
person's talents for the living. 

Allison also hypothesizes that mummies 
of women and children were prepared 
to keep their survivors company. "In all 
primitive sociei es, ' he explains, "the family 
unit was vital. If a man lived alone, he 
would never survive. By mummifying the 
woman and children in his life, he ensured 
his own well-being." 

Interestingly, though, by 4,000 b.c, the 
Chinchorro's customs had changed. They no 
longer bothered with elaborate mummifica- 
tion. Instead they buried their dead, along 
with such items as pots, food, and weapons 
that might be needed in the afterworld. 
"They began thinking in terms of the dead 
person, instead of those left behind," 
explains Allison. 

More research is needed to better 
understand the reasons for the Chinchorro's 
changing beliefs. Future excavations may 
help provide answers. "There are hundreds 
more mummies buried around Arica 
waiting to be uncovered," says Allison. DO 


By James and Alcestis Oberg 

It's one of the first questions a school kid 
asks an astronaut; What's it like to die 
in space? The casualties of the United 
States' space program number three, killed 
in the tragic Apollo 13 fire in 1967. NASA's 
engineers take every possible precaution to 
avoid such mishaps. Even so, the threat 
of death looms large in space. 

Death stalks ;s victim ci'ferently in space 
than on Earth, If a naked person went into 
the vacuum of space, death would come 
swiftly and easily. Air would be pulled from 
the lungs with one quick exhalation, and 
blood coursing to the lungs from the circu- - 
latory system would also lose its oxygen. 
The victim would grow giddy from the 
lack of oxygen. His vision would blur, and 
in just a few seconds his brain would die. 

After death, the body's fluids would 
slowly start to evaporate, causing the skin 
to blister all over. Some blood vessels 
would break, resulting in bruises. But 
contrary to popular oe ie'. rhc body would 
not explode. Human skin is fairly tough, 
and it would take days for the water in the 
body to evaporate completely. The cadaver 
would eventually mummify. 

If death occurred near the poles of the 
moon or Mars or in deep space beyond the 
asteroid belt, the body's water would not 
evaporate at all. Instead, the carcass would 
just Ireeze solid. 

It's unlikely that a space traveler would 
stray outside the craft without protective 
gear, li his space suit were to rip accidentally, 
however, or a helmet were to smash, the 
mode of death would be the same as if he'd 
entered space without a suit. In less than 
a minute's time, the suit would depressurize 
and lose its vital gases. 

Even the protective environment of a 
space capsule is no insurance against death 
from lack of oxygen (hypoxia). In 1971 
three cosmonauts lost their lives when an 
air-pressure valve in their Soyuz 11 
command module popped open. Within 
one minute, their precious cabin air was 
sucked into space. Georgy Dobrovolskiy, 
Vadirn Volkov, and Viktor Patsayeve died in 
their seats. Because the landing was 
automatically controlled, no one on 
Earth knew the cosmonauts were dead 
until the ground crew pried open the 

22 OMNI 

capsule. The men had simply suftocated. 

An even more terrible form of extrater- 
restrial death is from exposure to large 
doses of radiation. Earth's magnetic field 
and atmosphere protect us from the solar 
flares that give off up to 1,000 rads. (A 
rad is a unit of radialion absorbed by the 
body; the "safe" level of exposure over 
30 years is a total of 5 rads.) There is no 
such buffer in space or on other planets. A 
person could be exposed to the radiation 
from a strong solar flare and live for four to 
.six days During this time, he would be 
in excruciating pain and would experience 
constant vomiting and diarrhea. 

■ Solar flares pubrg ol\ ■aciarion levels of 
350 to 750 rads would, in the upper 
■ ranges, cause death from gastrointestinal 
collapse. In the lower ranges, people 
who didn't die c ; dehycl-aiion and emaciation 
within a month would soon succumb to 
any number of blood problems. In James 
Michener's novel Space, two aslronauls on 
the mythical Apollo 18 fall victim to the 
deadly rads of a solar flare. 

A mechanical breakdown in [he air- 
revitalization system could lead to death 

Space death: passing out — and on — m 

from carbon dioxide poisoning. In a large 
space station, it might take days for the gas 
to reach lethal levels; in a small spacecraft, 
it might take only a few hours. 

If the air system pumped in just 3 percent 
carbon dioxide, the breathing rate of the 
astronauts would double, and they would 
have trouble hearing. As the levels began to 
rise, they would have headaches, feel 
dizzy, and become nauseated. When the 
levels reached 6 percent, the crew members 
would become mentally confused, unable 
to take measures lo preserve their lives. 
As levels reached 8 percent, those who were 
still conscious would begin convulsing. In 
about ten minutes the astronauts would 
lose consciousness. 

Of course, there are other, more familiar 
forms that death might take in space. 
The heaters cou d fai and spacefarers could 
die of hypothermia, when the body temper- 
ature drops to perilously low levels. Fires 
can — and do — break out onboard, and 
crew members could easily die from burns 
or smoke inhalation. 

As to the gruesome task of disposing ol 
the bodies, people would choose those 
burial methods with which they're most 
comfortable. The bodies could be dried by 
tethering the remains to the outside of 
the craft for a few days and then returning 
the corpses to Earth for a traditional burial. 
Or they could be cremated and their 
ashes scattered among the stars. 

January 22. Challenger launch slated. 
The crew will include Francis Scobee, 
commander; Michael J. Smith, pilot; Judith 
Resnak, Ellison S. Onizuka, and Ronald 
McNair, mission specialists; Gregory Jarvis, 
payload specialist; and spaceflight partici- 
pant Sharon Christa McAuliffe, America's first 
teacher in space. 

January 24. Voyager 2 will come within 
66,000 miles of Uranus. 

January 30. Voyager 1 will be 
2,409,000,000 miles from Earth and 
2,391,000,000 miles from the sun.00 

From Pioneering Space; Living on the Next 
Frontier, by James wj ^cosiis Oberg (McGraw- 
Hill, 1986). 



By Philip J. Hilts 

^^\ Ithough publishers v\ 
#^^* susceptible to cornel fever in 
m \ 1985, !he return of Edmond 

Hal ley's namesake wasn'i the year's only 
source of insp ration for general-interest 
science books. To choose our annual survey 
ol the year's best, we asked experts in 
various fields of science what they read 
during 1985. 

Some volumes were recommended 
repeatedly, such as Metamagical Tbemas 
(Basic Books), by best-selling aulhor and 
computer scientist Douglas R. Holstadter. 
The book's title is an anagram of mathe- 
matical games — and among its tans is 
prominent physicist Leon Lederrnan, director 
of FermiLab. "It's a book that need not 
turn off people who have mathephobia," 
Lederrnan says. "It is a never-ending buffet 
of musical, mathematical, magical, and 
merry ideas. Skip around, help yourself. It 
appeals to people who love to say, 'Wow! I 
never thought of that!' " 

Another frequently recommended book 
is The Flamingo's Smile (Norton), a collection 
- of Harvard biologist Stephen Jay Gould's 
latest essays. The chapter titles alone 

suggest the playful but art-u mold of 
Gould's subject matter: "The Freezing of 
Noah," "Of Wasps, and WASPs," and 'Adam's 
Navel," among others. The Flamingo's 
Smile is "the best collection yet from Gould," 
says Martin Gardner, Scientific American's 
columnist emeritus. "As he goes on he 
seems to have mastered the form and just 
gets better and better." 

Another singular character of science is 
Richard R Fey n man. the physics Nobel ist. 
Over the yea;s bo:h scentists and journalists 
have tound it difficult to talk about Feynman 
withou: relating its comical exploits. 
Feynman's pranks once included cracking 
top-secret safes containing atom-bomb 
secrets, just to prove that it could be done. 
Now, with writer Ralph Leighton, he has 
finally begun to tell his own tales in "Surely 
You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" (Norton), 
"It beats Woody Allen. It's the funniest book 
I've read in a long time," says Marvin 
Minsky. MIT's wizard of artificial intelligence 
and robotics. 

One of the more somber books of the 
year is Catherine Caufield's In the Rainforest 
(Knopl). which details.the destruction 

Computer-enhanced photo of Haiiey s Cornet This cosmic visitor arrived early at bookstores. 

24 OMNI 

now taking place in the forests thai girdle 
our planet. E. 0. Wilson, Harvard's contro- 
versial sociobiologist, has been studying 
this problem and says. 'Tins is the best 
recent repor; or tropical deforestation, a 
subject that is quickly coming to the fop in 
public visibility." 

Smaller — but far deadlier — perils to life 
are. the "subject of Quest for the Killers 
(Birkhauser), by historian June Goodfield. 
Joshua Ledcrbc-rg Noboi laureate and 
president of Rockefeller University, recom- 
mends this companion volume to the PBS 
television series of the same name. Quest 
details Goodfield's four years of medical 
research in the Third World, and it consists 
of five tales, each one describing a differ- 
ent country and disease. 

An even broader subject— the universe — 
is addressed m phys c s\ James S. Trefil's 
Space, Time. Infinity: The Smithsonian 
Views the Universe (Pantheon). Every page 
of this astronomy book coruscates with 
four-color art. Thomas Gold, Cornell 
astronomer and cad.ng orooonentfor 
decades of the "steady state" theory of the 
universe, recommends nis ove r size book, 
which takes us on a tour that starts with the 
Big Bang theory and ends with our current 
state of knowledge — and puzzlement — in a 
variety of areas of astronomy. 

Where the facts of human behavior meet 
the imagination, there is another entertain- 
ing, provocative book; Ks:hy <ecle."i's 
Woman of Tomorrow, with Yvonne Baskin 
(St. Martin's/fvlarek). The book explores the 
vast potentials that science will make 
available to women in the future. The 
National Institute of Mental health's Candace 
Perl linds Woman of Tomorrow to be an 
"interesting collage, part speculation, part 
fact . . . about rae and lemale sex differ- 
ences. It's a wild mix of imaginative things." 

The question of which books to read about 
the return of Halley's Comet was answered 
for us by Stephen Edberg. the coordinator 
for amateur observation of the International 
Halley Watch, At the top of his list is Come/ 
Haiiey: Once in a Lifetime (American 
Chemical Society), by Mark Littmann and 
Donald K. Yeomans. His second choice: 
The New York Times Guide to the Return of 
Halley's Comet (Times BooksJ.OQ 



It's like a bad horror film. For those who suffer Irom multiple 
personality disorder (MPD), it is as if their bodies and minds 
have been invaded as they shift from one distinct ego state to 
another. Each alter personality previously waiting in the wings 
assumes the forward position on stage, while the original person- 
ality recedes. Following this strange, hypnotic phenomenon known 
as switching, the new self may display flamboyant body language, 
clothing, and hairstyle and a drastically modified voice, vocabu- 
lary, and handwriting. Even the memories are changed. 

In "Mind Menagerie" (this month's book excerpt, on page 74) 
you'll read about the bizarre lives of M. M. George, an MPD patient. 
But M, M. George may not be that unusual, and MPD may not be 
the rare disorder it was once thought to be. In fact, cases of mul- 
tiple personality are burgeoning. "There's a galaxy of them out 
there," says Eugene Bliss, of the University of Utah School of Med- 
icine. Chicago psychiatrist Bennett Braun estimates that some 5,000 
cases may now be on record. Is this an epidemic, or are our meth- 
ods of diagnosis improving? 

Certainly there has been an information explosion in the field. 
Several professional journals have recently devoted entire issues 
to MPD, and a new organization, the International Society for the 
Study of Multiple Personality, held its second national meeting in 
Chicago this past October. This upsurge in interest provokes bot- 
tom-line questions: Who is the self in the driver's seat? Do "normal" 
people, sensing their internal parts or subpersonalities in conflict, 
have a less noticeable version of MPD? And what can this incom- 
parable disorder teach us about the mind/brain/body relationship? 

Multiple personalities break all the rules. A unified sense of self 
with a singular personal history is shattered, replaced by a teem- 
ing multitude of idiosyncratic selves with varying degrees of au- 
tonomy. According to recent reports, the number of alternates 
ranges from 8 to 13. but in one woman as many as 180 have been 
observed. Similarly, a singular pattern of physiological response 
is violated. Brain-wave patterns, handedness, allergies, and pain 
thresholds vary as multiples change gears. 

Brendan O'Regan, vice president for research at the Institute for 
Noetic Sciences, which funds conferences on MPD, believes mul- 
tiples provide fertile ground for inquiry into the nature of the self. 
"The whole issue of mind/body plasticity." says O'Regan, "seems 
about to undergo a major reformulation if what we learn from mul- 

tiples is developed in clinical and research terms. 1 ' Psychothera- 
pist Armand DiMele, of New York City, who has treated several 
cases, concurs: "Suddenly, multiples are here in numbers, like 
messengers of the gods who can skip us eons ahead in our sci- 
entific understanding of brain and body." 

Once thought to be an unusual lorm of schizophrenia, MPD is a 
discrete, treatable disturbance. Although most multiples are still 
misdiagnosed or not diagnosed until adulthood, early identifica- 
tion might help prevent more severe disorders. Nearly all multiples 
were abused children— beaten, cut, burned, or sexually abused 
by a parent. In a typical case, the first "splitting defense" occurs 
before age five, during an incident of extreme abuse. Eventually 
the person creates additional selves, resulting in an internal divi- 
sion of labor to handle unwanted tasks. MPD may run in families. 
Philadelphia psychiatrist Richard Kluft once saw three generations 
of multiples in treatment. This tendency may be caused by a chain 
of abuse, or it may reflect an inherited capacity todissociate easily. 

Before treatment, multiples are typically unaware of their many 
personalities. Amnesia between ego states serves to protect the 
original self, but it also causes grief and frustration. "Everybody 
hates you and thinks you're a liar," one female multiple said. After 
becoming aware of the other selves, the dominant personality can 
exert influence over the others, even calling on them for assist- 
ance. A personality who is tired or tipsy, for example, can relinquish 
control to one who is alert and sober. A female graduate student 
writes of just such parallel processing; "When I am writing a paper 
on dichotic hearing, one of the others is composing the proposal 
for the master's thesis. Someone else has prepared dinner, . . 

Some multiples also appear to heal more quickly than other peo- 
ple do. Symptoms appear and disappear rapidly, and even third- 
degree burns improve more quickly than normal. "There is an in- 
triguing trail of clues," O'Regan says, "suggesting that certain kinds 
of dissociative states similar to MPD facilitate extraordinary heal- 
ing. Perhaps it will be possible to characterize the healing states 
that multiples use and train them in others." 

Multiple personalities are more than just bizarre case histories. 
They offer interesting possibilities lor enriching scientific knowl- 
edge. Their gifts represent proof of fhe human nervous system's 
capacity for instantaneous reorganization. Each person is a living 
lab, a testing ground of human ability— CONNIE ZWEIG 



Children (rom rich families 
often fall victim to emotional 
disorders caused largely 
by— get this— possessing too 
much money. In a recent 
study, John Levy, executive 
director of the Carl G. Jung 
Institute, in San Francisco, 
dubbed the condition "af- 

Young heirs, he found, may 
lack the motivation and self- 
discipline to stick with a 
challenging job, run into diffi- 
culty establishing long-term 
relationships, and feel gener- 
ally alienated from the world 
at large. 

The pathologically rich 
also are vulnerable to low self- 
esteem, boredom, guilt over 
being wealthy, suspicion 
that borders on paranoia, and 
anxiety about trusting others, 
making commitments, and 
expressing themselves freely. 
"Many are lost souls," Levy 
maintains. "They kill time 
traveling, going to night- 
clubs—whatever does not 
constitute work." 

He interviewed at length 
several wealthy individuals as 

28 OMNI 

well as psychologists who 
specialize in counseling the 
rich. He was hired to carry out 
the research by a tycoon 
concerned that his children 
were at risk of coming down 
with the symptoms of "wealth 

Levy believes that alfluenza 
is a peculiarly American 
affliction because the money 
here is, like the country 
itselt, relatively young. Tradi- 
tion in other countries dic- 
tates that heirs to wealth 
develop a sense of mission, 
whether in politics, philan- 
thropy, or some other civic- 
minded endeavor. 

Any suggestions for a 
cure? "It would be nice if or- 
dinary middle-class people 
were more sympathetic to 
the plight of the rich," Levy 
says, 'And if you're going 
to get rich, you should under- 
stand that your children 
may face some serious emo- 
tional hazards." 

— Robert Brody 

"Bisexuality: It immediately 
'doubles your chances for a 
date on Saturday night." 

— Woody Allen 


Do humans grow more 
brain cells after birth? A re- 
sounding no has been the 
medical profession's em- 
j phatic answer to this ques- 
; tion. You may lose brain cells, 

neurologists tell us. but you 
| most certainly don't gain 
j any new ones. Now this com- 
I mon wisdom is being reeval- 
uated as a result of unex- 
| pected findings from 
j research on canaries and, 
j more recently, rats. 

Fernando Nottebohm, a 
I biologist at Rockefeller 
University, in New York City, 
was studying the brain 
center responsible for the 
canary's song behavior when 
he made an unusual obser- 
vation: At the end of each 
breeding season, when the 
canary ceases to sing, he 
noticed that the brain region 
controlling song had shrunk 
back in size. But by the 
following season, when the 
canary had mastered a 
new song, he measured a 
size increase in the same 
neural area. With the aid of 
colleagues Steven Goldman 
and John Paton, Nottebohm 
was able to show that this 
expansion was accompanied 
by the formation of new 
brain cells — a growth spurt 
that the researchers suspect 
may be under hormonal 

A canary is, of course, a 
far cry from a human being. 
But another researcher, 
Shirley Bayer, of Indiana Uni- 
versity, believes she has 
uncovered evidence of similar 
growth properties in the rat, 
raising the once unthinkable 
possibility that humans 
may also be capable ot 

neurai regeneration. If so, 
such a natural talent might 
someday be harnessed 
to help stroke victims and 
others with brain damage. "It's 
a long shot." concedes 
Nottebohm, "but the fact that 
neurogenesis [the formation 
of new brain cells] went 
undetected for so long in 
birds and lower mammals 
means that it is well worth 
searching (or in humans." 

There is cause for skepti- 
cism, however. Neuroscien- 
tist Pasko Rakic, of Yale 
University, found no evidence 
for the generation of new 
brain cells in our closest rela- 
tive, the rhesus monkey. 
But as Nottebohm points out, 
"The canary research has 
given us a much better idea 
ot which part of the human 
brain we should be looking at 
for signs of this capability. 
Until further investigations are 
done, the possibility cannot 
be ruled out." 

— Kathleen McAuliffe 

"The true poet dreams being 

— Charles Lamb 

Canaries hold the clue to a 
neuroscientilic breakthrough. 

II you were made ol antimatter, would you tall toward the ceiling? 
Physicists don't think so but are testing to make sure. 


If matter falls down, will 
antimatter fall up? Physicists 
doubt it, but they aren't 
sure because no one has 
been able to measure how 
gravity affects antimatter. 
Now one group has found a 
way to see how fast — and 
which way — antimatter falls. 

Gravity seems simple 
to measure. Just toss an ob- 
ject up and time how long 
it takes to fall. Gravity is very 
weak by atomic standards, 
however, and the antimatter 
produced in atom smashers 
is very energetic. That means 
it's moving much too fast to 
detect how the earth's grav- 
ity is pulling on it. Thus, 
Mike Hynes and other physi- 
cists at the Los Alamos 
National Laboratory, in New 
Mexico, are building a special 
"decelerafor" to slow down 
antiprotons. At the end of 
1986 they plan to hook it up 
to the Low Energy Antiproton 
Ring (LEAR)at GERN (the 
European Center for Nuclear 
Research), near Geneva. 
Switzerland. That should stow 

down LEAR's antiprotons 
enough to measure how 
much gravity tugs on them— 
and which way. 

The physicists expect 
antiprotons to fall down, like 
ordinary matter. Hynes 
says it would be "incredible 1 ' 
if they fall up and promises 
to double-check any meas- 
urements that show they 
I do.— Jeff Hecht 

! "Man is the only animal that 
i laughs and has a state 

— Samuel Butler 

"Even in civilized mankind 
taint traces of monogamous 
instinct can be perceived." 
— Bertrand Russell 


A miniaturized artificial 
hearing device that relies 
upon tactile sensations 
relayed by a transmission 
belt worn around the stomach 
may give some 1 million 
Americans, many of them 
children, the chance to 
escape the soundless, 
speechless, desolate world 

now endured by the pro- 
foundly deaf. 

The invention, for which 
the Food and Drug Adminis- 
tration has just granted 
marketing permission, is 
called a vocoder. It is the 
handiwork of Frank Saunders, 
a San Francisco inventor 
who has specialized in ex- 
perimental and perceptual 
psychology for 15 years. 

Saunders's Tacticon Cor- 
poration hopes to begin 
selling, at $3,500 apiece, the 
1- to 1.5-pound system, 
which includes a vibrating 
belt, a lapel microphone, and 
a processing box the size 
of a paperback book. Older, 
bulkier devices weighed 
as much as 20 pounds, more 
than the small children who 
wore them. His are no bigger 
than a Sony Walkman. 

"The vast majority of pro- 
foundly deaf people do not 
live normal lives," says Df. 
Kimbrough Oiler, an associate 
professor of pediatrics and 
psychology at the University 
of Miami's Mailman Center 
for Child Development, in the 
Florida School of Medicine. 
Most never learn speech, 
remaining isolated from the 
hearing world for a lifetime, 
communicating as best 
they can with sign language. 

This is how the vocoder 
works: The belt's inner sur- 
face is a series of 16 gold- 
plated buttons nestled 
against the wearer's stomach. 
When someone speaks, 
the lapel microphone picks 
up the sound, and the proc- 
essor box, worn on the 
hip, breaks it down into 16 
channels, based on fre- 
quency. Each channel trig- 
gers a different button so that 
together any sound creates 

a pattern of tickles across the 
wearer's stomach. Those 
tickles change in (requency. 
intensity, and location, mov- 
ing from one of the gold- 
ptated buttons to another, 
giving a rich variety of sensa- 
tions that reflect the subtle- 
ties of human speech. 8ut 
they're felt, not heard. 

Oiler calls the device a 
tickle bell, and he and other 
researchers in Miami are 
elated at the progress made 
by their subjects, some of 
whom were 100 percent 
nonverbal and have now de- 
veloped vocabularies of 
almost 1,000 words. 

"With the profoundly deaf," 
says Oiler, "you're trying to 
blast through a damaged 
system. ... If we were to 
overcome the problem of 
speech communication for 
the deaf, we would have 
accomplished something 
very, very major." 

— George Nobbe 

"Few people have the 
imagination tor reality." 

— Johann Wollgang von 


Scientists studying Halley's 
Comet as it makes its closest 
pass at the earth in 75 years, 
in late 1985 and early 1986. 
may cull some new facts 
about its predicted speed 
and path by referring to 
astronomical observations 
recorded more than 2.000 
years ago in Babylonia. 

That's the opinion of as- 
tronomer Richard Stephen- 
son, of the University of 
Durham, in England, who, 
working with Durham gradu- 
ate student Kevin Yau and 
Hermann Hunger, of the 
University of Vienna, recently 
uncovered the oldest docu- 
mented sighting of Halley's 
Comet — a 164 b.c. appear- 
ance recorded by Babyloni- 
ans on a small clay tablet. 

Between 750 b.c. and 
ad. 75, Stephenson explains, 
Babylonian astronomers 
recorded their daily observa- 
tions of the planets, the 
phases of the moon, and 
anything unusual they noted 
in the heavens. About 1,200 
of these astronomical texts 

30 OMNI 

have been stored in the 
archives of the British Mu- 
seum tor decades and. ac- 
cording to Stephenson, 
largely ignored by scholars. 
Suspecting that the Babyloni- 
ans might have recorded 
Halley's dramatic visit as it 
streaked across the sky, 
Stephenson presented cu- 
neiform expert Hermann 
Hunger with a list of days 
when the comet would most 
likely have been sighted. Ac- 
cording to Stephenson, "He 
came up with three reports 
that corresponded to my 
calculated dates— a comet 
in 87 b.c . the same year 
an ancient Chinese record 
also reports a comet, and two 
records of a comet In 164 B.C." 

Stephenson is adamant 
that the Babylonians must 
have observed Halley's 
Comet, rather than some 
other phenomenon, because 
of their detailed accounts. 
"They used the word sal- 
lummu, which meant a comet 
that moved slowly, through 
(he sky. day after day. And the 
87 b.c sighting gave an 
accurate description of the 
kind of tail Halley's has 
probably had for thousands 
of years." 

He also points out that the 
two 164 B.c. tablets place 
the comet in the heavens in 
nearly the identical place 
where Stephenson calculated 
that Halley's would have 
been seen between Novem- 
ber 9 and November 26, 
"They mention it was first in 
the Pleiades area of Taurus 
and then it moved gradually 
to Sagittarius and disap- 
peared a little northwest of 
Jupiter. To me, that proves it 
was Halley's." 

— Sherry Baker 


The invention of the wheel 
was one of mankind's tech- 
nological triumphs. Now 
Ohio State University scien- 
tists have opened new fron- 
tiers by inventing the leg. 

A 60-person research team 
headed by Robert IvtcGhee 
and Kenneth Waldron has 
developed a 17-foot-tong. six- 
legged, computer-controlled 
adaptive suspension vehicle 
(ASV)— a walking machine 
that looks like a giant Erector 
set insect. The ASV, not a 
commercial prototype but a 
"prcof-of-a>ncept'' model, 
will take its first outdoor stroll 
in the spring. 

Research on computerized 
walking machines was initi- 
ated in 1965 by McGhee and 
Yugoslav engineer Rajko 
Tomovic. Their inspiration: 

"Animals represent an 
existing proof that land vehi- 
cles can be built with a 
much higher performance 
capacity," McGhee says. The 
ASV, capable of speeds up 
to eight miles per hour, 

can go where wheeled 
vehicles fear to tread, climb- 
ing steep slopes, stepping 
over ditches and walls, 
wading through swamps and 
mud. It can pirouette and 
sidestep like a helicopter. 

The driver uses a joystick 
to steer the ASV which is 
powered by a 900-cc motor- 
cycle engine. Sixteen on- 
board computers coordinate 
the motions of the six jointed 
legs and use data from an 
optical radar system to 
choose footholds. 

McGhee thinks the next 
breakthrough in attaining 
animal performance levels 
will be man-made muscles. 
"We need the mechanical 
equivalent of the transistor," 
he explains, "a microscopic 
contractual element that 
can be deposited in layers 
analogous to muscle fiber." 
(See "Robotic Soul," June 
1985, for more information on 
walking robots.) 

—Leah Wallach 

'The solar system has no 
anxiety about its reputation. " 
— Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Ohio State's ASV: A giant Erector set insect that can climb steep 
slopes, step over walls, and pirouette like a helicopter. 

Porcine prisons turn passive 
piglets into pugnacious porkers. 


How of ten do you think 
about pig stress? Stanley 
Curtis, of the University of Illi- 
nois, does — constantly. 
Curtis measures the ways in 
which crowded conditions 
of commercial confinement 
buildings stunl pig growth or 
make pigs sick. After trying 
to discover how pigs think 
and feel. Curtis redesigns 
environments to make pigs 
healthier, happier, and heavi- 
er—and more profitable for 

How do you tell a dis- 
tressed pig? Animal behav- 
iorists establish baseline 
routines in the pig's life and 
then compare them to habits 
in the confinement building 
to see how they differ. 

They watch sows about to 
give birth, for instance. 
Sows are known to have ritu- 
als, called trills, which some- 
times resemble cheerleading 
routines. A sow may stand 
up, turn around, paw, root, 
make a nest, lay down. End of 
trill. Put in a narrow confine- 
ment crate she is blocked 
from turning around, and 

there is no straw for nesting, 
so she paws at phantom 
straw. Stress makes her re- 
peat steps more than usual, 
Or she gets the routine out 
of whack. To reduce sow 
stress, Curtis has redesigned 
crates to allow natural trills. 

Piglets are under stress, 
too, because they fight to 
establish pecking order. Re- 
searcher Temple Grandin 
has literally lived with litters 
of pigs for periods of weeks. 
In each case there was a 
boss hog that would bite her, 
even while she lay in the 
straw and petted the other 
pigs. Yelling and slapping the 
dominant pig didn't stop 
the biting. 

Finally she precipitated a 
porcine showdown. Using a 
board against the pugna- 
cious porker's neck, Grandin 
pushed the animal against 
the fence. Instantly it surren- 
dered. "She was a changed 
pig after that," Grandin 

Lesser pigs cannot be 
issued planks to protect 
themselves in pens from 
dominant pigs. What Curtis 
has done is to build small 
boxes into the walls of con- 
finement pens, where a 
bullied hog can flee when 
another is biting it, "They go 
right to them, "he says, 
"like iron filings to a magnet." 

Stress can also be lowered 
by introducing a bit of fun 
into a pig's life, Curtis has 
simply suspended a toy rag 
on a rope over the pen. 
The plucky porkers worry 
these rags day and night. In 
fact, entire pens have been 
observed to get up and 
play at 2:30 am, while a 
neighboring pen sleeps right 
through the ruckus. 

Curtis wants to balance 
some of the management 
advantages of confinement 
buildings with their behavioral j 
effects. Confinements are 
warmer, usually disease free, 
and cleaner than the older i 
environments. But no one 
considers how unnatural 
crowding disrupts behavior 
and causes stress, His proof i 
is that it leads to sicker, 
thinner, slower-growing 
pigs,— William Mueller 

"Ever since the young men 
have owned motorcycles, 
incest has been dying out. " 
— Max Frisch 



A disproportionately large 
share of the physicians 
kicked out of the govern- 
ment's Medicare and Medi- 
caid programs for acts of 
fraud and abuse have been 
psychiatrists, reveals a 
study funded by the Depart- 
ment of Justice. 

Although psychiatrists 
make up just 8 percent of all 
physicians in the United 
States, they accounted for 18 
percent of the 147 crooked 
physicians suspended from 
the two medical-benefit 
programs over a 15-year 
period — the worst track re- 
cord of all the medical disci- 
plines studied. 

"Obviously, this doesn't 
reflect well on the practice of 
psychiatry," says criminolo- 
gist Paul Jesilow, coauthor of 
the study, which was an 
analysis of all physician rip- 
oHs of Medicare and Medi- 
caid. "But I can't really say 
that psychiatrists are any 
more crooked than the rest of I 

the medical profession." 
Psychiatrists, Jesitow points 
out, may just get caught 
more often. 

The fraud and abuse by 
the psychiatrists included: 

• Billing the government 

For up to 24 hours of therapy 
sessions daily, when they'd 
actually seen patients for 
much shorter periods of time. 

• Having sexual liaisons 
with patients, then charging 
the government's programs 
for that time. 

• Charging for therapy, when 
they had merely dispensed 

• Submitting bills for fictional 

• Charging for therapy done 
by other psychiatrists. 

"The government has a 
very limited budget for audits 
of physicians," Jesilow says, 
"so a great deal of fraud 
and abuse is never uncov- 
ered." — Eric Mishara 

"What is man. . .but a 
minutely set, ingenious 
machine tor turning . . . red 
wine . . . into urine?" 

— Isak Dinesen 


Ceres looks like an ordinary C clamp, but it picks up messages of 
distress from thirsty, polluted, or malnourished plants. 


Aside from a wilted leaf 
here or a dead stalk there, the 
sad truth is lhat plants just 
don't communicate very well 
with humans, at least not 
in any conventional way. But 
Dr. Peter A. Beedtow and 
his coresearchers al the 
Battelle Pacific Northwest 
laboratories, in Richland, 
Washington, believe they may 
have found a way around 
that problem. 

They have developed a 
device they call Ceres, after 
the Roman goddess of 
agriculture. It measures with 
uncanny accuracy a plant's 
calls for help when it encoun- 
ters such stressful environ- 
mental conditions as drought 
and pollution. 

"It looks like an ordinary C 
clamp, and it fits around 
the stem of the plant," says 
Beedlow, a student of plant- 
water relationships. "Stress 
will change the diameter of a 
plant's stem — shrink it — 
and that's what Ceres actually 

The botanical explanation 
is that when plants feel 

32 OMNI 

! stress, the tiny pores of their 
i leaves, called stomata, 

open or close, causing minute 

changes in the diameter of 
; their stems. The clamp 
j attachment, connected to a 

microprocessor and a re- 
! cording device, measures 
\ these changes, effectively 
j permitting the plant to 
: "speak" when it's in trouble. 
'-. So far Ceres has been used 

on such plants as corn, 

apple trees, sunflowers, 
: sagebrush, slash pines, and 
! the tail grass papyrus. 
I So accurate is the device 
I that it can measure the stress 

caused by ozone or the 
i sulfur dioxide from auto ex- 
I haust within two minutes 

after exposure. Thirst can be 
I predicted at least three to 
] five days before a particular 
■ plant's leaves begin to 

droop, according to the 

Battelle researchers. 
j Beedlow says that Ceres 
j can help predict more effec- 
! tive irrigation schedules, 
i calculate the usefulness of a 
! variety of fertilizers, or meas- 
: ure the impact of pollutants 
i on farming areas. 

- — George Nobbe 


At last a scientist has 
revealed how to shoot a bas- 
ketball with consistent accu- 
racy—how, in short, to launch 
a sphere 9.47 inches in 
diameter through a 10-foot- 
high circular rim only about 18 
inches wide. 

The quest for the perfect 
shot began about six years 
ago, when Peter J. Brancazio, 
a physics professor at Brook- 
lyn College and amateur B- 
ball player, was asked by 
a crony, "If you're so smart, 
how come you stink at bas- 

Thus challenged, he began 
to study the matter. He drew 
lines to depict shooting 
arcs, calculated trajectories, 
and scribbled equations 
and formulas. Then he filmed 
students taking set and 
jump shots at various dis- 
tances from the basket. 

He ran the developed film 
through an editor-viewer 
and traced trajectories 
of each shot on a transparent 
plastic sheet placed over 
the viewer screen. Operating 
on the assumption that 
behind every successful 
athletic technique is a funda- 
mental scientific concept 
or natural law, he analyzed 
77 shots in all. 

Key conclusion? A high- 
arching shot stands a much 
better chance of sinking 
sweetly home than a low- 
flying one. For example, 
a 20-foot jumper with a 49° 
trajectory leaves a margin for 
error seven times lower than 
a 43" job. Hence, virtually 
all the best shooters forsake 
the line drive in favor of the 
rainbow parabola. 

The professor also found 

that shooters should exert 
the least possible launching 
force — what he terms "mini- 
mum force angle," otherwise 
known as a soft touch. The 
slower the ball is delivered 
from the hand, the more 
feathery its flight, the better 
the odds that the shot, even 
on contact with rim or back- 
board, will drop through 
the hoop. 

Backspin is also a plus. 
Releasing the ball off all five 
fingertips with a sharp down- 
ward flick of the wrist auto- 
matically imparts backspin. A 
ball so shot will abruptly 
lose more speed on hitting 
the rim or backboard than 
balls with forward spin or 
none at all. 

Brancazio, now nicknamed 
"Doctor Jump Shot, " pub- 
lished these theories in the 
American Journal of Physics. 
"But I was more excited by 
the prospect ol raising my 
field-goal percentage than 
making a breakthrough 
in physics." — Robert Brody 

"Nobody gets justice. People 
get good luck or bad luck." 
— Orson Welles 

Strive for "minimum-force 
angle" on your jump shot. 


By firing incredibly short 
laser bursts {each just two 
hundred trillionths of a sec- 
ond long) at special mirrors 
put on the moon by the 
Apollo astronauts, scientists 
at the University of Hawaii's 
Mount Haleakala Observatory 
are now able to measure 
the distance to the moon {ap- 
proximately 230.000 miles 
away) to within an inch, over 
ten times more accurate 
than previously possible. 

"Timing how long it takes 
for the laser light to go up 
to the moon and come back 
to us," moon-laser project 
manager Louis Macknik 
explains, "gives us a measure 
of the moon's distance be- 
cause we know how fast light 

Each laser burst is so 
incredibly short, Macknik 
says, that its departure and 
return can be timed with 
pinpoint precision — resulting 
in the superaccurate meas- 
urements of the moon's 
distance. The short-burst 
laser (as opposed to less ac- 
curate long-burst lasers 

used at other observatories) 
has onfy recently been per- 
fected by NASA, the sponsor 
of the Mount Haleakala 

Macknik and his crew are 
making their frequent laser 
measurements of the moon's 
fluctuating distance as a 
way to gauge movements in 
the earth's Pacific crust. 
Their data will be analyzed 
by geologists in an effort 
to genefate accurate earth- 
quake predictions. 

'All we're really doing is 
some fancy surveying," 
Macknik says, "using the 
: moon as a reference to 

determine the changing po- 
! sition of our observatory 
1 on the earth's surface." 

— Eric Mishara 

i "Men have always turned 
from the ascertained, which 
is limited and discouraging, 
to the dubious, which is 
unlimited and lull of hope for 
everyone. " 

— Agnes Reppiier 

"Scientists change the world 

without knowing it." 

— Lord Arthur James Balfour 



Thousands of victims of 
multiple sclerosis, stroke, and 
other brain problems suffer 
a strange and distressing 
disorder; They burst into 
uncontrollable laughter or 
tears, regardless of the 
circumstances. Now a team 
of researchers has found 
a treatment that not only 
controls the symptoms but 
may help explain the nature of 

It began when University 
of Rochester neurologist 
Robert M. Herndon saw a 
multiple sclerosis victim who 
complained of depression 
but was constantly laughing. 
He treated her with amitripty- 
line, a standard antidepres- 
sion drug. As her depression 
cleared up, her laughter 
went away. Puzzled by the 
contradictory results, he 
referred the case to his col- 

Herndon's colleagues — 
Drs. Randolph B. Schiffer and 
Richard A. Rudick — gave 
the drug to 12 patients with 
uncontrollable laughing 
or weeping, but at tower lev- 
els than are given for depres- 
sion. They asked family 
members to keep a log of 
how the subjects behaved. 
Eight of the subjects im- 
proved — their bouts of 
laughing and crying de- 
creased—directly as a result 
of the treatment. At the same 
time, their moods didn't 
change, indicating that 
depression was not a key 

How does the drug work? 
The researchers say that 
emotions can be seen as 

water building up behind a 
dam. It takes an active effort 
to keep the dam from col- 
lapsing. "In this syndrome," 
says Rudick, "the pathways 
that normally control emotions 
are damaged." The re- 
searchers say that the drug 
somehow restores the brain's 
chemical ability to block 
the rising currents of emo- 
tion,— Douglas Starr 

"Since railways came into 
existence, the necessity of 
not missing the train has 
taught us to take account of 
. minutes, whereas among the 
. ancient Romans, who not only 
| had a more cursory science 
i ol astronomy but led less 
■ hurried lives, the notion 
! not of minutes but even of 
i fixed hours barely existed. " 
— Marcel Proust 

! "Wo one ever regarded the 
first of January with 
indifference. " 

— Charles Lamb 

"Mysteries are not necessarily 
miracles. " 

— Johann Wollgang von 


Over a century of using the telegraph key. according to Rupert 
Sheldrake's theory, should make Morse code easier to learn. 


About five years ago, a 
British plant physiologist 
named Rupert Sheldrake set 
forth a bold, if bizarre, new 
theory to explain one of 
the great mysteries of sci- 
ence: how a single fertilized 
cell metamorphoses stage 
by stage into a raccoon, 
a watermelon, a water lily, or 
any other organism. In other 
words, how do an elephant's 
embryonic celts know they're 
eventually supposed to 
take the shape of an ele- 

The answer, said Shel- 
drake, is morphogenetic 
tields. These nonphysical 
fields, akin to Ptato's ideal 
forms, impose upon organ- 
isms shapes consistent 
with forms developed in the 
past. A porcupine embryo, for 
example, turns into a big 
porcupine because that's 
what porcupine embryos 
have always done. 

Sheldrake calls this 
"morphic resonance." In this 
way, he adds, it becomes 
easier and easier for things to 

34 OMNI 

take on familiar patterns. 
Likewise, it should be easier 
for people to learn materia! 
that has been learned by 
others (which theoretically 
explains why it is so easy 
today to ride a bicycle, while 
it is still somewhat difficult 
to ride a skateboard). 

This neat, simple theory 
has a major flaw: No one has 
been able to test it success- 
fully. Until now. Recently, 
psychologist Arden Mahl- 
berg, of Midwestern Psycho- 
logical Services, in Madison, 
I Wisconsin, added some 
j credibility to Sheldrake's hy- 
j pothesis with a unique ex- 
I He presented students 
] with a speed-learning test of 
: international Morse code 
j and a second test of a novel 
■ code composed of the 
| same symbols. He divided 
| the students into several 
I groups and tested each 
• group at a different time. 
Morse code, as it turned 
out, was easier to learn tor the 
' first group. The novel code, 
I as would be expected if 
j morphogenetic fields exist, 
i was more difficult to learn 

lhan Morse. It became easier 
to learn, however, as it was 
learned by increasing num- 
bers of students and was 
actually easier to learn than 
Morse for the last group. 
"Both codes," said Mahloerg, 
"showed evidence of Shel- 
drake's phenomenon.'' 

An earlier experiment was 
not so kind to the British 
physiologist. According to 
his theory, hidden television 
images would be easier 
to recognize after many other 
people had learned to see 
them on TV. Of some 17.000 
participants from several 
countries, however, the pro- 
| portion recognizing a target 
! image actually declined 
j after it had been shown to a 
l TV audience of 1 .8 million. 

— Connie Zweig 


Practically every scientific 
invention of the twentieth 
century has been predicted 
in a science-fiction story. 
Below are five "modern mira- 
cles" of technology. Do you 

know in which science-fiction 
story each of these marvel- 
ous inventions was pre- 

1. The laser. 

2. Communications satellites. 

3. The atomic bomb. 

4. The Strategic Defense 
Initiative, a.k.a. star wars. 

5. Rocket flight to the moon. 

—Ben Bova 


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aej jeeq aiqisiAUi 

ue qitM mtea am uo uorpnjjs 

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'(86SL) sp/JO/w aifljo JBM am 

s,s||sm '9 'H s ! Jawsue aieu 

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auize6euj uo/py aousps Bui 

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spuejj dyiiy Aq paou e 'tjv 

QIPZ uoppaBeujJV ui „un6 

abj„ s|L| peppiM isji) sja6oy 

>|ong aiqeiqnopaj am l 

"The road that leads the 
scientist in his quest for 
knowledge toward the most 
distant galactic islands in 
the cosmos may well turn out 
to be shorter than the 
distance that separates us 
| from an understanding of life 
here on Earth. " 

—Ernst Von Khuon 

Some sky watchers think 
Chicken Little might be right 



One day about 50,000 years ago, a 

speck of lighl appeared over the 

horizon of what is now northeastern 

Arizona. In seconds that scintilla 

became a blinding fireball bearing 

down on Earth. Its body, hall the size 

of a football field, shed rock fragments 

as it plunged toward the Arizona 

plain. Behind it trailed a streak of 

vaporized meteoroid and white-hot air. 

Seconds later, it slammed into the 

ground with the force of 20 million tons 

of TNT, blasting some 175 million 

tons of rock from the earth and sending 

a mushroom cloud of hot gases lofting 

up into the atmosphere. Once the 

cloud had drifted away, what was left 

was a gash in the earth about a mile 

wide and more than 500 feet deep. 

Known today as Meteor Crater, 

il marks the site of an asteroid impact 

with Earth. David Roddy and I are 

driving toward it now, in the early 

morning coolness. At a time when 

many of his colleagues are excitedly 

preparing for a visit from a benign 

interloper, Halley's Comet, Roddy is 

one of a small but dedicated group of 

scientists worrying about a not-so- 


36 OMNI 

tHere the gash 

in the land is unmistakable and 

enormous, almost a - 

mile wide and more than 500 feet deep.^ 

friendly visit from an ex- 
traterrestrial interloper like 
the one that smashed into 
the Western plain. 

Roddy is a staif mem- 
ber of the U.S. Geologi- BB 
cal Survey, at Flagstaff, 
and is a world expert on 
planetary percussions — 
"mega-events," as he 
calls them. His doctoral 
thesis at the California In- 
stitute of Technology was 
■ a five-year study of 
"cryptovolcanic struc- 
ture" at Flynn Creek, Ten- 
nessee, (He proved it 
wasn't volcanic at all but 
the result of a meteor im- 
pact with Earth.) And his 
book. Impact and Explo- 
sion Cratering: Planetary 
and Terrestrial Implica- 
tions, is the definitive text 

on the similarities between nuclear detonations and the wallop 
of extraterrestrial bodies on our planet. He has what seems to 
be an inordinate meres; ir exolosions. impacts, and large holes 
in the ground. Today his work sometimes involves piloting gov- 
ernment research planes over the Nevada test site, monitoring 
underground nuclear explosions. 

As we head down Interstate 40 toward the crater, he explains 
the reason for his fascination with cosmic smashups. For most 
of human history, he says, the heavens were considered to be 
a place of harmony and peace, with all change happening 
gradually. People didn't see meteor impacts. So they didn't be- 
lieve in them. The craters on the moon were thought lo be vol- 
canic, not scars from extraterrestrial impacts. But by the early 
1800's, astronomers realized that meteors were falling to Earth 
and that they came from asteroids. 

The space program brought with it renewed interest in as- 
teroids. 'After looking at the back side of the moon, with all its 
cratering, and the images of Mars. Mercury, Venus, as well as 
the satellites ot Jupiter and Saturn, we could tell every one ol 
them had the living daylights beaten out of it," Roddy says. 
"That's when we real y began to pay >-e r ous attention to aster- 
oid impacts." Roddy and others are convinced if it happened 
elsewhere in our solar system, it could happen here. 

With the whole solar system to careen around in, it would 
seem improbable that one of them would hit a populated speck 
of land on our tiny planet. But "improbable events permit them- 
selves the luxury of happening," as Confucius said." 

The fact is that the improbable has- already happened often 
enough: Some 70 craters are thought to have been gouged out 
of the earth by impacts from extraterrestrial bodies. The most 
recent suspected impact is known as the Tunguska event. On 
June 30, 1908, a comet slammed into a remote spot in central 

Previous pages: artist's rendering of the creation of Meteor Crater, in 
Arizona, from the moment o: impact (upper let!) to the result (far- 
left). This page i.'is cater 'hoi is new Lake Santa Qiuz. in Argentina. 

38 OMNI 

Siberia, near the village ol 
Tunguska, setting fire to 
trees and destroying 
wildlife over an area 
about the size of Rhode 
Island. There were no hu- 
man casualties, But the 
comet could just as eas- 
ily have hit Moscow. 

The next time, experts 
say, we may not be so 
lucky. "There is a remote 
but real probability of a 
small asteroid impact 
disaster in the foresee- 
able future," warns plan- 
etary scientist Clark 
Chapman, of the Plane- 
tary Science Institute, in 
Tucson. Another expert, 
Eugene Shoemaker, of 
the U.S. Geological Sur- 
vey, has estimated that 
there is between a 12 and 
40 percent chance of another Tunguska-scale event happen- 
ing somewhere on the earth within the next 75 years. And in 
1980 a NASA advisory group warned that a "large asteroid 
could someday destroy Earth civilization." 

These dreary prophecies raise a few questions. One is, as 
the United States spends billions on deterring the Soviet's nu- 
clear arsenal, is anyone doing anything about this extraterres- 
trial threat? The answer is a qualified yes. Right now there are 
two early-warning asteroid-watch programs under way, one in 
California and one 300 miles south of Meteor Crater. And should 
they spot an asteroid on a collision course with us, there are 
those who have suggested strategies for dealing with the errant 
object. Proposed schemes include everything "from nudging it 
away with a few megatons of explosives to guiding it down to 
Earth, where it can be mined. 

But should we really be all that concerned? After all, how 
much damage could one asteroid do? Up ahead the rim of 
Meteor Crater rises in the -distance. From our perspective it 
looks like a low, flat-topped mesa — which is exactly what the 
cowboys thought it was. Coon Butte, they called it. 

Roddy and I get out of the truck at the foot of the crater and 
start to climb. From there, it looks as though we're at the base 
of a small mountain. Until we climb to the top there's no clue 
that the mountain in front of us is the lip of a giant crater. There, 
the land falls away, 550 feet straight down. Between us and the 
far side there is nothing but 4,150 feet of space. Yawning and 
shimmering in the desert heat, an enormous, craggy orange 
crater stretches before us. It stares up a! countless other cra- 
ters elsewhere in the solar system. They say that the Indians — 
we are just south of the Navajo reservation— avert their eyes 
from Meteor Crater. (A legacy of fright experienced by the lonely 
warrior who crawled to the top and looked over the edge?) 

As I look down into the crater I can't help but recall a similar 
site about 300 miles southwest of the crater, near Alamogordo, 
New Mexico. It was where Trinity, the world's first nuclear bomb, 
was detonated. 40 years ago. Today, except for a chain-link 




Better keep your head dup 

as you play seductive songs for the aficionados 

of the fourth dimension 



The nut-brown boy stood in 
the California field, his Asian face 
shadowed by a hard hat, his 
short, stocky frame clothed in a T- 
shirt and a pair of brown 
shorts. He squinted across the hip- 
high grass at the spraddled 
old two-story "ranch house, and then 
he whistled a few bars from a 
Haydn piano sonata. Out of the upper 
floor of the house came a man's 
high, frustrated "bloody hell!" and 
the sound of a fist slamming 
on a solid surface. Silence for a 
minute. Then, more softly, a 
woman's question: "Not going well?" 
"No. I'm swimming in it, but I 
don't see it." 
"The encryption?" the woman 
asked timidly. 
"The tesseract. If if doesn't gel, it 
isn't aspic." 
The boy squatted in the grass 
and listened. 
'And?" the woman encouraged. 
"Ah, Lauren, it's still cold broth." 
The conversation stopped. 
The boy lay back in the grass, aware 
he was on private land. He 

had crept over the split-rail 
and brick-pylon fence from the new 
housing project across the 
road. School was out, and his 
mother — adoptive mother — 
did not like him around the house 
all day. Or at all. 

He closed his eyes and imagined 
a huge piano keyboard and 
himself dancing on the keys, tapping 
out the Oriental-sounding D 
minor scale, which suited his origins, 
he thought. He loved music. 

He opened his eyes and saw the 
thin, graying lady in a tweed 
suit leaning over him, staring down 
with her brows knit. 

"You're on private land," she said. 

He scrambled up and brushed 
grass from his pants. "Sorry." 

"I thought I saw someone out here. 
What's your name?" 

"Pal," he replied. 

"Is that a name?" she asked 

"Pal Tremont. It's not my real name. 
I'm Korean." 

"Then what's your real name?" 

"My folks told me not to use it 


anymore. I'm adopted. Who are you?" 

the gray woman looked him up and down. 
"My name is Lauren Davies," she said. "You 
live near here 7 " 

He pointed across the fields at the close- 
packed tract homes. 

"I sold the land for those homes ten years 
ago," she said. "I don't normally enjoy chil- 
dren trespassing." 

"Sorry," Pal said. 

'Have you had lunch?" 


"Will a grilled cheese; sanowich do?" 

He squinted at her and nodded. 

Jn the broad, red-brick and tile kitchen, 
sitting at an oak table with his shoulders 
barely rising above the top, he ate the mildly 
charred sandwich and watched Lauren 
Davies watching him. 

"I'm trying to write about a child," she said. 
"It's difficult. I'm a spinster and I don't know 
children well." 

"You're a writer?" he asked, taking a swal- 
low of milk. 

She sniffed. "Not that anyone would know." 

"Is that your brother, upstairs?" 

"No," she said. "That's Peler. We've been 
living together for twenty years," 

"But you said you're a spinster — isn't that 
someone who's never married or never 
loved?" Pal asked. 

"Never married. And never you mind. Pe- 
ter's relationship to me is none of your con- 
cern." She put together a tray with a bowl of 
soup and a tura salad sandwich. "His lunch." 

she said. Without being asked. Pal trailed up 
the stairs after her. 

"This is where Peter works," Lauren ex- 
plained. Pal stood in the doorway, eyes wide. 
The room was filled with electronics gear, 
computer terminals and industrial-gray 
shelving with odd cardboard sculptures 
sharing each level, along wilh books and 
circuit boards. She put the lunch tray on top 
of a cart, resting precariously on a box of 
floppy disks. 

"Still having iioubie?" she asked a thin man 
with his back turned toward them. 

The man turned around on his swivel chair, 
glanced briefly at Pal, then at the lunch, and 
shook his head. The hair on top of his head 
was a rich, glossy black; on the close-cut 
sides, the color charged abruoty to a bright, 
fake-looking white. He had a small, thin nose 
and large green eyes. On the desk before 
him was a computer monitor. "We haven't 
been introduced," he said, pointing to Pal. 

"This is Pal Tremont, a neighborhood vis- 
itor. Pal, this is Peter Tuthy. Pal's going to help 
me with that character we discussed." 

Pal looked at the monitor curiously. Red 
and green lines went through some incom- 
prehensible transformation on the screen, 
then repeated. 

"What's a tesserae!?" Pal asked, remem- 
bering the words he had heard through the 
window as he stood in the field. 

"It's a four-dimensional analog of a cube. 
I'm trying to find a way to teach myself to 
see if in my mind's eye," Tuthy said. "Have 

"Cotsworth here claims to have found a simpler version. " 

you ever tried thai?" 

"No," Pal admitted. 

"Here," Tuthy said, handing him the spec- 
tacles. As in the movies." 

Pal donned the spec lack-;-:-: and stared at 
the screen. "So?" he said. "It folds and un- 
folds. It's pretty — -it sticks out at you, and then 
it goes away." He Idoked around the work- 
shop. "Oh, wow!" In the east corner of the 
room a framework of aluminum pipes — 
rather like a plumber's dreae- of an easel — 
supportec a long, dlsee- bodied piano key- 
board mounted in a slim, black case. The 
boy ran to the keyboard. "A Tronclavier! With 
all the switches! My mother had me take 
piano lessons, but I'd rather learn on this, 
Can you play it?" 

"I toy wilh it," Tuthy said, exasperated. "I 
toy with all sorts o: eleci'omc hings. But what 
did you see on the screen?" He glanced up 
at Lauren, blinking. "I'll eat the food, I'll eat 
it. Now please don't bother us." 

"He's supposed to be helping me," Lau- 
ren complained. 

Peter smiled at her. "Yes. of course. I'll send 
him downstairs in a little white." 

When Pal descended an hour later, he 
came into the kitchen to thank Lauren for 
lunch. "Peter's a real flake. He's trying to see 
certain directions." 

"I know," Lauren said, sighing. 

"I'm going home now," Pa! said. "I'll be 
back, though. . . ilil's all right with you. Peter 
invited me." 

"I'm sure that it will be fine," Lauren re- 
plied dubiously. 

"He's going to let me learn the Tron- 
clavier." Wilh that. Pal smiled radiantly and 
exited through the kitchen door. 

When she retrieved the tray, she found 
Peter leaning back in his chair, eyes closed. 
The figures on the screen patiently folded 
and unfolded, cubes continuously passing 
through one another. 

"What abou; Hcckrjm s wor:<?" she asked. 

"I'm on it," Peter replied, eyes still closed. 

Lauren called Pal's foster mother on Ihe 
second day to apprise them of their son's 
location, and the woman assured her it was 
quite all right. "Sometimes he's a little pest. 
Send him home if he causes trouble — but 
not right away! Give me a rest," she said, 
then laughed nervously 

Lauren drew her lips together tightly, 
tharked her, and hung up. 

Peter and the boy had come downstairs 
to sit in the kitchen, filling up paper with line 
drawings. "Peter's teaching me how to use 
his program." Pal said. 

"Did you know," Tuthy said, assuming his 
highest Cambridge O'ciesscrial tone, "that a 
cube, intersecting a Hat plane, can be cut 
through a number of geometrically different 
cross sections?" 

Pal squinted at the sketch Tuthy had made. 
"Sure," he said. 

"If shoved through the plane, the cube can 
appear, to a two-dimensional creature living 
on the plane — let's call him a Flatlander — to 
be either a triangle, a rectangle, a trapezoid, 
a rhombus, or a square. If the two-dimen- 
sional being observes the cube being 

42 OMNI 

- 1 BgBig 



m. m 

' ."V- v 

'■>//S,S ■■:</' 








The water must have been 
numbing that February after- 
noon — not one of the other 
local daredevils even thought about 
jumping in. A few guys were willing 
to man the rowboat, but that was all. 
But young Bill Thornton, along with 
his friend Luther Taylor, had labored 
over the diving helmet, piecing it 
together Irom junkyard leavings — the 
top of a hot water tank, a bicycle 
pump, some weights that had been 
hanging around. Ever since they'd 
finished the headgear, Bill had been 
itching to try it out, driving every- 
body crazy He just couldn't wait. 

His friends promised to keep 
pumping him air. His body cut through 
the water quickly, and the blackness 
of the lake surrounded him. It must 
have been a bit like being pulled 
through the darkness of space. 

More than 40 years later, on August 
30, 1983, 103 friends and relatives— 
nearly one sixth of the population 
ot his hometown — journeyed to 
Cape Canaveral, in Florida, to give ' 
Bill Thornton a rousing send-off. 
At the age of fifty-four, the astronaut- 
physician, who had done more to 
ensure the health of his colleagues 
than any other individual at the space 
center, was about to also become 
the nation's oldest space traveler. 

In the carefully ordered universe 
called NASA, Ihe strapping six- 
foot-one-inch good ole boy from 
Faison, North Carolina, has often 
proved a turbulent force. Not content 
to confine himself to one position, 
Thornton lives out his workdays 
as doctor, medical sleuth, engineer, 
inventor, and space jock, He has 
devised the first scale to weigh 
astronauts in zero g; developed the 
exercise machine (at left) that now 
rides on each mission; investigated 
the causes of spacesickness; and 
trained mission specialists — including 
Senator Jake Gam — to perform 

medical experiments in space. There 
are dozens of other theories and 
accomplishments to his credit, in 
addition to two spaceflighls. 

His achievements seem all the 
more considerable once you learn 
that during his 18 years with NASA, he 
has rarely had a laboratory lo call 
his own. No team of assistants imple- 
ments his visions. No special techni- 
cians monitor his shuttle experi- 
ments. The reason; His status is that 
of astronaut. Officially, he has never 
been assigned to the medical- 
:t:3ca'"ch area. 

Nevertheless, he remains commit- 
ted to the pursuit of space medicine, 
and based on his studies of in-flight 
bodily changes, has several theories 
on the health— and physical traits— 
of those children destined to be born 
among the stars. 

Thornton's own birth took place in 
the great American backwoods, 
on April 14, 1929, where nature 
challenges the growth of genius, and 
civilization Gannot inhibit its wild 
impulse. Like Ihe heroes of folklore, 
William Edgar (Moose) Thornton 
came from humble beginnings. His 
father, the owner of a small farm 
in Faison, was sixty when his only 
son was born. Instead of giving 
his child a toy box, Mr. Will, as he 
was called, tossed building materials 
into a heap in the backyard. But he 
also taught his son the rigorous 
principles of physics and inspired 
young Bill to invent and build, "I'll 
never forget what a revelation gravity 
was. It took me days to realize 
weight wasn't something that just 
happened. The earth was actually 
pulling you down," Thornton recalls. 

But at the age of eleven, Thorn- 
ton's Tom Sawyer-like childhood 
ended when he was called to his 
dying father's bedside. "Mr. Will told 
him what kind of a man he wanted 
Bill to become," says Ann Taylor, 

Keeping pace 
with William Thornton — 
space jock, doctor, 
engineer, and inventor- 
may mean a brisk 
walk around the earth- 



•Bill approaches the human body the 

way an engineer or physicist looks at a complicated 

machine. He loves well-engineered things.^ 

a lifelong friend. He was to lake on his fa- 
ther's role as the head oi the lamily. "But he 
never fell sorry for himself. He never had the 
attitude, 'poor me,' " Taylor says. 

To support himself and his mother, Thorn- 
ton opened a radio-repair shop on Main 
Street. While other boys were playing in the 
fields, Thornton spent his free hours poking 
at the insides of radios and phonographs. 
Eventually he put himself through the Uni- 
versity ol North Carolina, where he majored 
in physics. 

In 1952 he entered the Air Force, where "I 
made people furious," he admits. "They 
wanted me to sit around and do the things 
a second lieutenant was supposed to do." 
Instead, he soon recognized the need lor a 
missile-scoring system that told pilots 
whether they had hit their targets. Thornton 
determined the point of nearest approach 
as well as the method for calculating the dis- 
tance by which a pilot had missed. 

According to Thornton, his achievement 
won him no friends. Those in the military bu- 
reaucracy felt that he had infringed on their 
turf, and they retaliated by destroying his 
early work. "They took it apart, scrapped it. 
But you don't think ! quit, do you? I smug- 
gled stuff into my Bachelor Officer Quarters 
to build the thfn.g." he says, {His engineering 
skills would prove even more uselul years 

Above: One o! severs! n)ecnar::sms devised by 
Thornton to hole onac-mianc 1 spacesickness. 

54 OMNI 

later.) Eventually, his contribution was ac- 
knowledged. Both the Air Force and the Navy 
adopted his system, and he was awarded 
the Legion of Merit, the second highest ci- 
vilian honor, bctorc h s :h rtieth birthday. 

■Upon leaving the Air Force in 1955, Thorn- 
ton returned to his native North Carolina for 
a six-month stint as an electronics engineer 
at a medical center. There he met a British 
medical technician named Jennifer Fowler, 
who was part of a professional exchange 
program from England. 

"I took one look at him and thought, He's 
never going to be able to mend my EEG ma- 
chine. I soon found out that I was wrong," 
Jennifer Fowler Thornton recalls. 

The two had a transatlantic courtship, and 
on June 14, 1958, the couple married. The 
following yea"r their first son, William Simon, 
was born. Son James arrived two years later. 

Throughout his young adulthood, Thorn- 
ton had harbored the dream of medical 
school. To be able to finance a medical ed- 
ucation, he joined Del Mar Engineering Lab- 
oratories, "in Los Angeles. There he built and 
directed the aviation electronics division. 
Later he developed a medical electronics 
division called Avionics Research, In 1959 
he was accepted at the University of North 
Carolina Medical School, where he concep- 
tualized and designed a device that ana- 
lyzes readouts from electrocardiograms. 

"When he graduated from medical school 
in 1963, 1 foolishly believed he'd be like other 

physicans and start a nice practice as a 
country doctor," says Jennifer. At least that 
was the plan. Then her husband attended a 
symposium at the School of Aerospace 
Medicine, in San Antonio, and discovered a 
whole new environment in which to study the 
human body, "He'd been bitten by the space 
bug," she adds. 

NASA wasn't accepting applications from 
adventurous physicans in 1964. Besides, at 
age thirty-two, Thornton was, by NASAs 
standards, too old to begin flying. We//, said 
Jennifer to herself, af ieast I don't have to 
worry about him doing something foolish — 
like becoming an astronaut 

Because interns can't normally prove they 
have the' right stuff by doing rounds. Dr. 
Thornton threw his little black bag into the 
Air Force. With their two small sons in tow, 
the Thorntons moved lo San Antonio. Jen- 
nifer breathed another sigh of relief. "San 
Anionic was a long way from Cape Canav- 
eral," she says. But by 1966 her confidence 
in their future together on Earth was waning. 

Stationed at Brooks Air Force Base, in San 
Antonio, Thornton was assigned to the Air 
Force space program, known officially as the 
Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOLE). In 
1966 he and Ken Cooper, who later became 
America's pioneer of aerobic titness, began 
to devise an extensive exercise program for 
man in space. 

Unlike his predecessors in the field, 
Thornton did not head for the nearest gym- 
nasium to check out the preexisting equip- 
ment. "Exercise was the most misunder- 
stood area you can imagine," he says. "No 
one had resorted to rigorous analysis. No 
one had been moved by the physics of hu- 
man physiology." 

With a fundamental approach earmarked 
by childlike simplicity, he conceptualized the 
impact of forces Ike resistance, inertia, and 
velocity on human muscle during exercise. 
Then he translated these data into scientific 
equations. These findings were to become 
the theorelical framework for later achieve- 
ments in the field of space medicine. 

But it was. another accomplishment that 
drew NASA's attention. The astronauts 
seemed to be losing weight during space- 
flight. There was no way to determine how 
quickly they were shedding pounds, how- 
ever, because Ihere was no device for 
weighing !hem in zero g. Thornton designed 
such a scale — the first weight scale to de- 
viate from the Egyplian gravimetric system 
in more than 5,000 years. The astronauts 
were strapped onto a spring that oscillated 
back and forth. The greater the mass, the 
slower the frequency of oscillation. Thornton 

then translated ilia' inform-iiion into pounds. 
Then, in 1967, the age requirements for 
astronauts changed. "I had wanted to get 
into the astronaut corps as much as any- 
thing in my entire life," Thornton says. He was 
a candidate with unique qualifications for 
solving a myriad of medical problems. "The 
Gemini program was winding up, and the 
Apollo program was building up," he adds. 
"You saw plans for space stations, for 
manned Mars missions." 

Later that year America's enthusiasm tor 
space exploration was diminished by the 
tragic Apollo fire. Other problems ensued. 
NASA's budget was cut to the bone during 
the height of the Vietnam War. 

"All of a sudden you saw these future pro- 
grams wink out like dying stars. These guys 
[the astronauts] looked at the flight sched- 
ule and said to themselves, 'We won't get to 
fly,' " says Dr. Joseph Kerwin, director of 
space and life science at Johnson Space 
Center. 'About half waited. Half didn't." 

Bill Thornton was to wait 16 years for his 
first Might. In the interim he began tackling 
the toughest problems the space program 
had to ofler. His first accomplishment: pre- 
venting the weight loss experienced by all 
astronauts in space. This condition had 
stumped NASAs dietary experts throughout 
the Sixties and was becoming a matter of 
concern to Ihe astronauts themselves. 

"It was obvious thai a carefully controlled 
study with accurate daily measurements in 
tlighl would be necessary if we were to solve 
Ihe problem," Thornton explains. He found 
that the astronauts were working longer and 
harder than originally anticipated and thus 
burned far more calories than expected. No 
one else had thought to investigate their 
workload. His Rx: Increase the caloric in- 
take. It worked. 

It became a hallmark of Thornton's career 
to take on every challenge — including those 
problems at first assigned lo others at NASA. 
For example, astronauls had complained that 
after a flight, the size and. strength of their 
leg muscles decreased appreciably. Medi- 
cal scientists at NASA prescribed an in-tlight 
workout on a stationary bicycle. 

But Thornton knew the regimen was 
doomed to failure. While working with Ken 
Cooper in the Air Force, Thornton had dis- 
covered a fundamental law of physiology: 
The choice of exercise determines the phys- 
iological effect. Using extensive measure- 
ments and. calculations, Thornton demon- 
strated that bicycle exercise could not 
maintain muscle strength. It helped condi- 
tion the cardiovascular system, but "nobody 
had studied itsimpact on the musculoskele- 
tal system," Thornton says, 

"To maintain mass and strength* the mus- 
cles have to be worked at near their limits," 
he adds. 'A one-hundred-seventy-pound 
man exerts about two hundred fifty pounds 
every time he takes a step on Earth. The 
average person does this hundreds, even 
thousands of times a day. It's not surprising 
that muscles go when you take that activity 
away. I had to come up with some activity to 
substitute for walking in weightlessness." 

56 OMNI 

He fought with true grit to substitute a 
treadmill for the bicycle. Initially he lost, and 
the bicycle flew aboard Skylab 2. "But at least 
I struck a compromise where I could meas- 
ure muscular-strength capacity and loss in 
prefltght and postflight medical exams," he 
explains. Thornton found that despite daily 
exercise, leg strength was down 25 percent 
after a flight. 

Armed with (his evidence, Thornfon was 
given the go-ahead. After developing a rou : 
tine for maintaining upper-body strength, he 
proceeded to create the crude prototype for 
the exercise device that has flown on all mis- 
sions since July 28, 1973. With a kind of Harry 
Truman ingenuity, he took a 3- by 1.5-foot 
sheet ol kitchen Tellon and attached it to an 
aluminum base. He added rubber elastic 
cords, called bungees, and a harness that 
would be used to anchor the astronauls. The 
base of the treadmill was pitched at a slight 
incline. The idea was to have the astronauts 
try to run in place. 

"The guys could keep it up for only about 

6/'m not a bona 
fide medical researcher. I'm 

in the astronaut 
office. I have no resources. 

I have one room 
to store my records, but as 

far as lab 
space, I have to borrow.^ 

live or ten minutes. Then they'd get tired," 
says Dr. Kerwin, chuckling. Because they 
were wearing cotton socks, it was like trying 
to climb an icy hill. The crew christened the 
contraption Thornton's Revenge. "But they 
came down, with half the amount of muscle 
loss," Kerwin adds. "It was a triumph." 

After the treadmill's "first trial in space, 
Thornton contacted Henry Whitmore, presi- 
dent of Whitmore Enterprises, Inc., in San 
Antonio, and asked him to translate his de- 
sign into metal. 

"They built this thing for one tenth of what 
it would cost it you went to a major aero- 
space company. Now the crew can't live 
without it," Kerwin says. 

The astronauts themselves came to re- 
gard Dr. Bill, as they call him, as one of the 
world's leading authorities on physical fit- 
mess. "Whenever the topic comes up at 
meetings," says astronaut Mary Cleave, "Bill 
is the one everybody looks to. I had never 
thought about reach, access, how much 
force it takes to get from here to there." 

Says former astronaut. Joe Allen, "Bill ap- 
proaches the human body ihe way an en- 
gineer or physicist looks at a complicated 
mechanism. He loves well-engineered 

things. Maybe that's why he's so fascinated 
by the human body," 

Not content to limit himsell lo a single area 
of expertise, Thornton decided to grapple 
with yet another problem: shifting body fluids. 
Though NASA scientists believed fluid shifts 
were occurring within the body, causing a 
condition dubbed "the bird legs of space," 
nobody had been able to prove the theory. 
As the phrase implies, NASA astronauts' legs 
would shrink and weaken during space- 
flight. After longer missions astronauts suf- 
fered from anemia and circulation problems 
upon their return to Earth. Thornton was 
asked to look into the condition. 

With remarkable intuition, backed up by 
painstaking measurements on the Skylab 4 
astronauts, Thornton charted the course, of 
the body's fluid changes during weightless- 
ness. "These changes laky place much more 
rapidly than anyone had previously sug- 
gested — from minutes to hours after entry 
into weightlessness," he explains. The fluids 
appear to shift upward, then outward through 
excretion. "The astronauts would come back 
dehydrated," Thornton adds. Once these 
changes were plotted, the rest was easy. On 
the return leg of theirjourney, astronauts had 
to drink a saltwater solution to supplement 
and stabilize fluid volumes. This helped 
considerably. Thornton's theory gained ac- 
ceptance, but conclusive evidence — in the 
form of specific measurements —would be 
years in coming. Indeed, it would take the 
help of a U.S. senator. 

Thornton's intervention hasn't always been 
appreciated. A workaholic, he has little pa- 
tience for those who don't take matters into 
their own hands. He's not afraid of a confron- 
tation, say associates, if he believes in what 
he's fighting for. 

"Bill works best as a sort of one-man 
show," Kerwin says. "He does his finest work' 
when you carve out a problem, point him in 
a direction, and release him." 

But in the highly s!r ucturec -world of NASA, 
no one individual can take on everything — 
and be applauded for it. Even Thornton ad- 
mits to overstepping his boundaries on oc- 
casion. "I'm not a bona fide medical re- 
searcher. I'm in the astronaut office. I'm an 
outsider. I have no resources. I have one 
room to keep my records in, but as far as 
lab space, I have to borrow." 

Some of the medical scientists at NASA 
have resented his encroachment upon their,. 
territory, especially since his achievements 
made them look unproductive. Thornton re- 
fuses to elaborate on the details but claims 
that for a two-year period, he was not given 
any medical projects to work on. "I've been 
exiled from time to time," he says. 

During this dark time, he journeyed over 
to the Universiiy of Texas at Galveston after . 
hours to develop the instrumentation for the 
first large-scale studies of blood pressure 
taken during periods of activity. In 1976 he 
even took a leave of absence from NASA 
and signed up at the University of Texas 
Medical School at Galveston as a first-year 
resident in internal medicine. "He recog- 
nized he was gclfng out oi date, so he wenl 

Sometimes I almost wish Sam hadn't retired 
irom serious racing. He'd probably have a 
big-ticket garage in Burbank instead o( the 
surplus hangar he occupies in Springville. 
And he'd Still be covering himsol' ir punk: 
glory with racing special:: like his infamous 
Dirty Mudder,- instead of keeping his wiz- 
ardry secret. But in that case I wouldn't be 
his small-town parts chaser, friend, and fac- 
totum, which is the Mr. Hyde part of my life. 
Mostly I'm a Jekyll — the guy who drives the 
Springville school bus. 

Lots of racing fanshave nearly forgotten 
Sam after the abrupl way he dropped thejjj 
sport over a decade ago. An aerospace en-* 
gineer for twenty years, Sam moonlighted 
his advanced race-car designs and applied 
high tech at every step. He retired the same 
day he stole computer time to project future 
trends in auto racing. He burned his printout 
in horror, and to this day he won't describe 
his glimpse of future racing. 

"I can tell you this," he grumbled one night, 
as I helped him collect Hewland tranny cas- 
ings for recycling, "in the near future nearly 
all our cars will be more efficient and a whole 
lot safer. But there's a one-percent bunch 
that'll never giye a rat's rump about rational 
use of energy. They'll stick a steering wheel 
and chin spoiler on a Minuteman Three if ■ 
they can get the parts. I didn't want to share 
road or track with 'em then, and I still don't." 
he said, rubbing gray whiskers reflectively. 
Sam had just described a banzai runner to 
a tee-fitting, but I didn't know it al the time. 

I learned about banzai runs a month later 
while in the Los Angeles basin, hunting some 
half-million candlepower headlights for Sam. 
They weren't forthe highway: he was rigging 
a snowmobile lor high-speed rescue work — 
but you've seen that on TV by now. I found 
those halogen lights at an aircraft supply 
place near Pasadena and then admired the 
car of another customer who'd come to get 
landing lights for his Lear jet. Since he was 
a guiet sort who neve-' dreamed of the trou- 
ble he started, I'll just call him Host. 

I was curious about his Dino Ferrari, He 
was curious about a guy who would drive a 
huge yellow school bus from Springville to 
Los Angeles on a minor errand. I told him it 
got better mileage than my MG, and the town 
council let me use it on weekends, and he 
asked why I didn't drive a Ferrari like every- 
body else, and something in my blank stare 
must've tipped him off, and he made amends 
by inviting me to a soiree at his home that 
night. I took his card, and he took his Dino 
off, leaving a rich fog of castor-oil lubricant 
hanging in the smog, and !• noted his ad- 
dress and wondered. Why not? 

I found out why not. No wonder they use 
sports cars above Beverly Hills; to get the 
bus past some of those switchbacks, . I 
would've had to disassemble it. I parked a 
half mile from Host's digs and hoofed it. Then 
I took a long look at his palace, where King 
Midas would've Jived if he'd had the money* 

Now, the truth is that I wouldn't know a.- 
Gucci bag if she bit me, but I know cars. I 
knew you could buy a medium-size banana 
republic for the price of the wheels in Host's . 

62 OMNI 

drive— and on in:- grass, since the latest ar- 
rival was backing a truly incredible piece of 
road art off behind the hedge. Gleaming 
darkly in starlight, it was a wet dream by 
Darth Vader: a Bella coupe, one of maybe 
twenty ever produced. A Bella is so wildly 
exotic thai a commoner can be awed and 
pisseci off by it in the same instant. 

Instead of letting all the air out of a hun- 
dred tires, I skulked back to the bus and 
damn near drove away. I mean, look: My T- 
shirt was ripped from- a quick repair under 
the bus. I had oil in my hair, and my tough 
old Wranglers- were mottled with slains. 
Some of those "oiks had emerged tram their 
Bentleys wearing jeans, but they were jeans 
with escutcheon plates. 

Then I got mad. I dumped my tool kit over 
and found some safety pins and a Band- 
Aid. I repaired the rip, lettered members only 
on the Band-Aid. and stuck it on a pocket of 
my jeans, nealened my hair with a wire brush, 
and marched to Host's aerie prepared to 
bluff my way in. 

hundred ponies hurl you into 

orbit, huge 
gum-ball tires slingshot you 

ahead of the 
.bright, bespoilered Porsche, 

and a twin-turbo 
rockets you down the drivel 

"Punk chic!" cried a bejeweled nabob as 
I passed the moat, and Host welcomed me 
without a twitch. I was shown around like a 
crusted doubloon found underfoot. 

One gorgeous blond touched my shoul- 
der and eyed her finger in amazement. "Real 
grease," she marveled to her escort. "I love 
it!" And in a chicer-than-thou ploy, she ap- 
plied a smear of caviar to her Givenchy. 

In five minutes a dozen oldveaux riches 
had ruined their rompers in the effort to go 
punk, and I was sharing a cigarette with a 
brain-fried brunet, wondering whether the 
oregano was in my drink or in the canapes. 
On sober reflection I know it was the ciggie 
and it wasn't halt nardly oiogano, no sirree. 

Soon I noticed that most of the guests 
shared a certain unseeing gaze; you could 
stare at their eyes and see clear back to thoir 
childhoods, and if you couldn't, they'd tell ' 
you anyway. But not (he guy who'd parked 
\he Bella. He seemed fully in control, with a 
cool, knowing look and a goblet of Perrier. I 
got near enough to listen while he hit care- 
fully on the caviared blond. She let him, 
though her escort — a guy wearing an un- 
buttoned silk shirt with a platinum Porsche 
logo by Cartier— was underwhelmed by this 

U-turn of events. I couldn't blame Silkshirt: 
the Bella man, Pat MacHinery, was one of 
the burly beautiful people. A broad, pleas- 
ant Irish face, innocent blue eyes, rhine- 
stone smile; and evidently he rented his bod 
from Sly Stallone. He also flashed knuckle 
tattoos that spelled out duts from where I 
stood. MacHinery saw it in reverse. I won- 
dered il he looked at that hand a lot. 

He seemed as misplaced in this mob as 
a long horn among Herefords. Feeling that 
cigaiehe. g idee end. ess. y to Host and 
asked what MacHinery did for a living. 

"You could call him a lay pharmacologist, 
pun intended." said Host. "II it comes in 
shreds, capsules. o< powder he can get it 
for you." 

"Not for me," I said. 

Host simpered into my face. "I beg to dif- 
fer," he said. 

I laughed. At the moment I would've 
grinned at a train wreck. "What's MacHinery 
doing here?" 


"That explains the Bella," I said, 

"Bellowing is out," he frowned. 

"Bella," I repeated, "as in Bella T-900. It's 
a Le Mans racer worth about a hundred thou, 
and I saw MacHinery hiding it behind your 
hedge an hour ago." 

That hedge was no higher than my crotch. 
Host thought about thai while he relit his cig. 
"Something like my Dino''" 

"More like a Lockheed SR-71. 1 don't know 
why MacHinery parked ins swoopy brute out 
of sight, but. several possibilities come to 

"I'm listening," said Hosl. 

I took a drag from his cig : listened to my 
pores pop, and said, "One: Billy Graham 
couldn't license a Bella T-900 for the street. 
The nine-oh-oh stands for the horsepower 
of that twin-turbo vee-eight behind the driver. 
and it has the ground clearance of a boa 
constrictor. If that thing has license plates, 
I'm John Z. Dewhat'shisname. Two: If he had 
needed to leave in a hurry, he couldn't make 
a faster exit on a lightning bolt. Three: Pat 
MacHinery may not be above suckering 
some poor schnook into a heavy bet on a 
drag race." 

"Don't say poor," Host admonished quickly. 
He heaved a long, giggling sigh and nod- 
ded toward a corner where the Porsche ad- 
dict with the slk sh rt was washing patroniz- 
ing smiles on MacHinery. The blond gazed 
from one to the other as if they were spitting 
a slow badminton bird back and forth, "My 
guess is one, two, and three," said Host. 
"Well, it's none of my affair," he added al- 
most as if he believed it, and wandered off. 

I idled over toward MacHinery, wondering 
why my feet seemed to be rolling on millions 
of little bitty ball ooarings MacHinery was 
listening to Silkshirt bu: acknowledged me 
with a nod, and now his blue eyes held a 
brittle glitter. 

". . . Must understand, my man, that one 
doesn't take a modified Porsche lightly," 
Silkshirt was drawling. 

"I'd never take one," Mac assured him, 
"lightly. I've only gel Ihis secondhand Bella; 

you'd probably think it's a lightweight, but I 
bet it's almost as last as a Porsche." It was 
a lightweight — its chassis tub was built of 
titanium— and I snickered. 

Silkshirt laid restraining fingertips on my 
wrist. "Be nice." he told me. "Everyone likes 
to think his car is almost the equal of mine. 
Bui one shouldn't bet on it." he murmured, 
with a raised eyebrow m Vlac's direction. 

Surprise, surprise: MacHinery oW want to 
bet. Silkshirt hadn't wet his knickers at the 
word Bells and was unfazed by Mac's pro- 
posal. The route would be down Coldwater 
Canyon to Beverly Drive, around Will Bogers 
Plaza, and up again. The blond would hold 
a baggie of some off-while substance, and 
whoever showeo 'irst took both baggie and 
bimbo. "Mot to worry," Silkshirt said archly to 
her, though she didn't look worried. 

It was Silkshirt who adopted sudden con- 
cern as MacHinery eased his T-900 from 
under the foliage. Every time Mac blipped 
his throttle during warm-up (rompaaa, 
ROMMPaa), leaves showered from the trees. 
Silkshirt gulped at this barrel-tired space- 
ship and wondered out loud if il was as fast 
as il looked, because it looked like Mach 3. 
1 nodded. Fingers in his ears, the Porsche 
pigeon slrode to the Bella and had some 
loud words, with the upshot that MacHinery 
agreed to carry ballast. Me. 

Why in God's name did- 1 agree? Because 
I was as stoned as a biblical chippy, and it 
seemed the blase thing to do at the time. I'd 
never had a street run in anything ap- 
proaching a Bella, I'd never gone off a ski 
ramp with roller skates and an umbrella, 
either. . . . 

As a contest, it was over almost before it 
started. To me, harnessed in a semireclining 
bucket with iVacf-inery's spare helmet on my 
I'oggii ■ i" lastea a lifetime. But then, you tend 
to age rapidly when you're slammed back 
into a Recaro, and . . . and . . . and behind 
you a roar like a tyrannosaur in rut insists 
that nine hund'-od ponies are straining to hurl 
you into orbit, and-huge gum-ball iires sling- 
shot you ahead of the bright, bespoilered 
Porsche, and Co'dwalor Car-yon is a blur as 
you're swept through switchbacks, but the 
rearview is full of Hun as that twin turbo rock- 
ets you down Beverly Drive with instanta- 
neous glimpses of faces in other cars turn- 
ing to see if it's really the end of the world, 
as you flick pas; :o surge around the plaza, 
all four tires sliding as you're pressed side- 
ways with goat cianges sudden and sharp 
■■as a cold wind in hell, and in your headset 
you hear — laughter? 

It's an intercom, and Mac is blinking his 
lights as he passes toe Fc r sohe, which has 
not yet rounded the plaza, and he says into 
his headset as cool as lip balm, "I could 
stroke it from here. Hell of a banzai run, we 
haven't even spooked a smokeybear." 

By this time I'm used to the jolting wallop 
as each-little undulation of the boulevard be- 
comes a slam, and no wonder, at twice the 
highway speed limit, and I manage to grunt,. 
"You want police chasing us?" 

WAAaaa, screeooowww, back up the 
canyon, by which time every chalet on our 

6-1 OMNI 

route is fully lit with a head at every window, 
and MacHinery says, "In the perfect banzai 
run you (waaAAP, BOOoom) haul maybe 
three smokeys from a light snooze (wow- 
WLLIIwwaaAA) into pursuit about the time 
Mr. Gotrocks behind you (WUMP BLAaaa 
over a road ripple) arrives- abreast of 'em. 
Guess who takes the heat?" 

"While you take the blond," I said, pitched 
forward against three-inch harness as huge 
disc brakes hauled us to a crawl nearing 
Host's place. 

"You effin' betcha," Mac chortled, and 
parked for a quick foray inside to claim his 
■bounties, I must say the blond accepted her 
lot without flinching. As he aided her in 
squirming past the sill into the Bella's cock- 
pit, I complimented him on his space-age 
hardware. "1 know a guy who uses equip- 
ment like yours," I added, sealing my fate. 

He didn't care who it was, so I didn't get 
to flaunt Sam's name. "I need some better 
longbeams," he said, "but otherwise I'm up 
to Le Mans specs." 


torque was suddenly multiplied 

by the huge 

spring uncoiling, the rear 

duals catapulting 

us halfway through before 

Sam could 

even get on the whoa pedal '3 

I thought abou: Sams emergency halo- 
gen lights and realized that flamethrowers of 
thai kind might warn innocents before some 
pedestrian became ptooie on MacHinery's 
windshield. "My friend would know what you 
need,'"! said.. 

MacHinery scribbled a Glendale address 
for me. "I'm nol interested in any cheap crap," 
he warned. "I'm a working stiff, and I'm nol 
stupid, and I have," he glanced at the blond, 
"everything else-| need." 

I agreed. The. intercom, I said, was a par- 
ticularly nice item. 

"Keeps me posted," he grinned. "You pray 
like that often?" 


"You. Nice touch. Sometimes they just yell. 
I like it better when ihey pray," 

"You'd like it. better if I wet the seat," I 

"You got it." 
■ "I did it," I said, saluted the seated blond, 
and stalked away. 

By the time Silkshirt arrived on toot, 
MacHinery was a recent memory that still 
reverberated booming down Coldwater 
Canyon, I didn't want to. hear Silkshirt's ex- 
cuses, but he had a dilly. He'd sideswiped a 

vehicle on the way back or tied have caught 
that crazy in the Bella, he said. 

I asked if anybody had been hurt. 

No, he said, it was an abandoned school 
bus. I accepted his check for a thousand 
dollars and spent the rest of my night bang- 
ing sheet metal, listening to curses from the 
locals — mostly in Arabic, 

Sam was so happy to get his halogen 
lights, he agreed to touch up the bus where 
the Porsche had pranged it. He wasn't too 
happy when I explained how I'd got the bent 
bodywork, "Serves you right, Iralf icking with 
a banzai runner," he grumped, sighling along 
newly smoothed sneetmets with arc-plica' 
alignment gadget he'd "liberated" from 
Hughes. You never know what hardware he 
might magic away from his friends in the 
aerospace biz. He flicked off the laser colli- 
mator, nodding his close-cropped gray 
thatch, and started mixing paint. 

With a sudden piercing glance from un- 
der heavy brows: "Pat MacHinery, huh?" 

"You know him?" 

"Same way I know Charlie Manson — gos- 
sip. He got bounced outta several racing 
groups: Ihey say he was about five gallons 
shy of a full tank even when he wasn't clab- 
bered on drugs. A good natural driver — 
more'sthe pity." 

Watching Sam feather fresh paint over 
primer, I admitted that my ride in the Bella 
had been a natural high. "But I'd gather Mac 
isn't in your gallery of greats," I teased. 

Around the dead cigar stub in Sam's teeth: 
"He would be, if I were a proctologist. It's 
one thing to flaunt a pawnbroker's big brass 
balls on the track, but does MacHinery know 
when he's overtaking a I roc grandma on a. 
public thoroughfare 7 Granny' sees his lights 
a few hundrec yards away and decides to 
change lanes or cross in front of him. Who 
(rained her to iuccc speeds in excess of two 
hundred miles an hour?" 

"That's what vented disc brakes are for." 

"So he rams her at only a hundred or so. 
That should comfort her heirs. Guys like 
MacHinery play poor boy while driving the 
most expensive hardware in the world, rac- 
ing on taxpayer macadam; and you, who 
oughtta know better, treat 'em as heroes! I'm 
tempted to fight fire with — oh, the hell with 
it." ■ 

"Heroes? Aw, Sam, not really." He quit 
spraying and faced me with a glower, "I 
mean, not really really." The glower started 
turning brown arouno the edges. I think the 
man has a built-in polygraph. "Well — maybe 
just a little, Sam. I mean, think of blasting 
past a patrol car at two hundred, then dis- 
appearing up the next off ramp before the 
enemy can lumble a hand mike — " 

"The enemy? Get yer Irontal lobes over- 
hauled. The enen-y doesn't g vc CPR to ac- 
cident victims or nail drunks before they nail 
us. The goddamn enemy entices idiots to 
play God with ie'hal weapons in public! Hell, 
you don't even know who the enemy is," he 
spat, zapping an imaginary banzai runner 
w tn ye, low paint. 

"I'm paying for that lacquer," I whined. 

"Think of it as retribution," he snarled. I'd 
rarely seen Sam so exercised over a point 
of racing ethics. 

I said, "Well, that settles the question ot 
whether you'll locate iongbeams for the guy." 

.Sam didn'i know what the hell I was talk- 
ing about and said so, and I explained. For 
a long moment he shifted the cigar stub 
around, studying the spray gun, and then 
muttered, "You gotla hold close apertures; 
can't have particles shooting off just any old 
way. But nothing ventured — oh. Where's 
Machinery's address?" 
. I gasped. "Sam! Not a letter bomb?" 

"Gimmea break. I'll offer him a set of halo- 
gens he can't refuse. Simpler if I could install 
'em; naw, he'll want to do his own mods. I'll 
have to remote Ihe unit. Save the son of a 
bitch some wiring; he'll appreciate that." 

I helped Sam clean up and then drove the 
freshly painted bus to my place. It was never 
easy, predicting what Sam might do for a 
fellow racer. Or why. For that matter. I didn't 
know why he'd asked to borrow the bus for 
an evening. If I had, I never would've let him 
finagle me into — but of course, I did. 

For the next few weeks, Sam and I were 
noticeably cooler toward each other. Not that 
I thought less ol him. but — well, there's room 
for more than one hero in the world. I had to 
admit that something in the romantic, care- 
less daring of the banzai runner did appeal 
to me. Whatever Sam might think, I have a" 
mind of my own. To prove it, I was a little less 
agreeable than usual. 

Take, for example, the evening he asked 
to borrow the bus once more as we sat on 
his huge granite-surface plate, chomping 
fruit from his hydroponic orchard. "I dunno, 
Sam. Didn't you use it just last week to test 
those Iongbeams you sent to MacHinery?" 

"Didn't take it outla the hangar," he said, 
cryptic as usual. "But I need to go to LA. 
with it Friday evening." 

"A big rcsnonsihil ty,' ! hedged. 

"Which I maintain," he reminded me. 
"Awright, wet sump, I'll bribe you with that oil 
gauge you've been mooning over." 

For years I'd heard there was an MG oil 
gauge once, somewhere, that worked. Nat- 
urally Sam owned it. Naturally I craved it. I 
was tired of watching the oil trail behind my 
MG and adding thirty weight when the trail 
petered out. But with a real, operating orig- 
inal-equipment gauge I'd be unique in Ihe 
Western Hemisphere. I agreed quickly but 
no! too quickly. I disagreed when Sam said 
he'd see me the following Sunday. If he 
wanted to spend a weekend in the city with 
my bus, he had to have a very good reason 
or a very bad one. In either case I was de- 
termined to go along. 

After lots of no-you-won't-yes-l-damned- 
well-will, Sam agreed with one stipulation; 
From the moment we left the city limits,. "You 
don't flap your yap about the bus. It's my" 
responsibility; you're only a passenger." 

The tic of- muscle under his jaw stubble 
said I had pushed nsgc: anions as far as they 
were going. 1 offered my hand, and he shook 
it and said pleasantly, "Remember, putz, I 
tried to keep you down on the farm." Sam 

WHERE EVER WE LOOK in Jack Daniel's 
Hollow, there's a bit of Christmas in the air. 

Jack Bateman (he's the boss of our rickyard) is 

getting a nice gift from two of his barrelmen 

friends. And if we know Mr. Bateman, he's got 

a gift for them somewhere 

close at hand. It's just 

another sign that the 

Christmas spirit has 

arrived. And, no matter 

where you live, we hope 

you've got it, too. 



Thank you, Science! 

You have been great and most helpful 
In exploring many facets of that which 
exists. We are beholden to you for our 
expanded knowledge, enabling us to 
separate reality from fiction and to 
snatch away from superstition that 
which we have come to know. 

But one thing you have not done, or 
have not been able to do — and that is 
to fundamentally gauge the adequacy, 
or inadequacy, of physical being and 
the true nature and rationale of 
existence itseif. 

The Logos Foundation 
for the furtherance of fundamental 
philosophical thought and inquiry, 
intended to seek and define cosmic 
reason, the rational principle and 
ultimate perspective in the universe. 

P.O. Box 758, Carson City, NV 89702. 


Now the magazine of the future 
can be kept for the future. Store your 

issues of OMNI in a new 
Custom Sound Library Case made 

of black simulated leather. It's 
built to last, and it will keep 12 issues 

in mint condition indefinitely, 
The spine Is embossed with a gold 

OMNI logo, and in each case 

there is a. gold transfer for recording 

the date. 

money order (S6.95 each; 

postpaid. USA orders only. Foreign 

orders (add $2.50 for 

postage and handling per case) 

to: OMNI Library Case, 

P.O. Box 5120. Philadelphia. PA 19141. 

Allow 4-6 weeks for delivery. 

chose a gleaming bL.'oundy apple from the 
fruit pile and took a big bite. "Somehow I've 
gotta get megatorque to those rear duals on 
the bus, " he muttered through apple juice. 

"You always munch an apple when you're 
brainstorming mischief," I said. 

"Fruit of knowledge," he said, cheeks full 
as a chipmunk's. 

"Oh. Bui there's no apple tree in your or- 
chard, Sam. Where d'you get apples ou! of 

"The snake brings 'em," he said absently. 
"Go away and lemme think." 

A school bus, late on a Friday afternoon, 
resembles the aftermath of a cell-block riot. 
I used Sam's high-pressure hose to flush out 
the last of the debris, grinning to myself as 
he hollered about the crud leaking down on 
him. He was jury-rigging something near the 
rear dual wheels, and I didn't see it until we 
were done with our separate jobs. When I 
did see it, I hooted. 

Sam. stolidly: "You never see a windup bus 

"I thought it was the world's biggest music 
box," I gibed. "Where'd you get that hurnon- 
gous spring?" 

He'd salvaged the enormous coil of flat 
steel from the old courthouse clock tower, 
he said. Now it was tixed to the bus frame 
and coiled around the drive shaft without 
touching it, fixed to a centered clutch ar- 
rangement that would grip the shaft or keep 
the spring wound when Sam pulled cable 
releases Irom the driver's seat. "When she's 
wound tight, this ol' barge is gonna be fairly 
spry otf ihe starting line," he judged. 

Bul how would he wind it? "Engage the 
spring clutch and drive backwards awhile," 
he said. "Get in and we'll give 'er a nudge." 

Sam opened the hangar door, pocketing 
a little black box, and backed the. bus out- 
side while fiddling with cable releases. En- 
gine torque was suddenly multiplied by that 
huge spring uncoiling, and those rear duals 
catapulted us in a wheelie halfway through 
the clean room before Sam could get on the 
whoa pedal. 

"Now," he announced, "I'm ready for L.A, 
traffic." Damn if he wasn't. En route to the 
city he wound his gizmo up several times, 
then sprang it on Corvettes. Didn't matter 
how fast we were going; when Sam pulled 
the cable, that old bus careened ahead, 
smoking all four rears. Sam laughed a lot. 
There was'n'l any law, he said, against get- 
ting up to fifty-five in milliseconds. 

I felt pretty good too, because for once, I 
understood the situation fully in advance. Oh, 
yes; me and the captain of the Titanic. . . . 

I never doubted for a moment that Sam 
wanted to find Pat MacHinery. But in Mac's 
business, you put the word out, and then he 
got back to you. We found the Glendale shop, 
Hernando's Right Away, which specialized 
in quick after-hours installation.of racy parts. 
Especially parts without legible serial num- 
bers. Hernando sucked at a gold tooth, 
hitched at a pair of camel's-hair pants that 
would never get as high as his navel, and 

patted his gut as if it were money. "You the 
dude sent those longbeams Mac picked up," 
he said to Sam. "He pay you?" 

"He will." Sam said, regarding, his stogie. 

"Maybe you stick aroun'. Mac he might 
show. No trouble," Hernando added, pudgy- 
hand palm down. It wasn't a comment, but 
a command. Then as an afterthought: "The 
return address on Mac's package — you work 
for that Springyille outfit?" 

"I am that Springville outfit." Sam said, 
whereupon Hernando's entire carcass just 
radiated a whole new outlook. Handshakes 
all around, slugs of Wild Turkey in our coffee, 
a bit of wheedling for Sam's autograph. Her- 
nando might be crooked as a drunk's 
gymkhana, but he knew who's who in auto- 
racing history. 

Presently: 'Jus' remembered something," 
Hernando murmured, leaving the office tor 
the bowels of his warehouse. "Don' be shy 
about the whiskey." 

Sam reached for the bottle. I said through 
a yawn, "Sam, it's late. Shouldn't we try 
someplace else? Who knows where he is?" 

"Hernando does. I figure he's on an ex- 
tension phone right now," Sam' replied, 
pouring a Cupful of booze down a grease 
trap. I learned long ago that when Sam does 
something weird, usually it's for good rea- 
son. And sometimes it's just weird. 

Hernando swept back a few minutes later, 
vented a silent whistle at the fluid level in the 
bottle, then shrugged and poured again, 
grinning. He could always brag about the 
time he and Sam got ossified together. I got 
my share during the next half hour. It's not 
often I enjoy such hospitality from a man oi 
Hernando's zigzag stripe. I was enjoying 
Sam's account of the time a Crosley won 
Sebring, when a familiar voice purred from 
the office doorway. 

"Should've told me who your friend was," 
Pat MacHinery said to me, easing catlike into 
the room. Sam stood up, a bit unsteadily, I 
thought, and stuck out his blunt paw, 
MacHinery look it; waved Sam outside to see 
ihe Bella's new halogens, recessed like tor- 
pedo tubes in the shark nose. "They'll scorch 
paini a! fifty yards," Mac admitted. "The in- 
structions sure called for one helluva spread 
between the lights." 

Sam paused. "You didn't follow the in- 

"Oh, sure. To the micron," said Mac, and 
ihey both smiled. The Bella squatted next to 
our bus, a lithe and showy outlaw like iis 
driver, while the bus made Sam's statement, 
sturdy and practical — and maybe packed 
with a surprise or two, 

"Those lights had a price," Sam said. 

Mac put hands on hips, and we could all 
see a revolver handle in his waistband, as 
he sneered down at the top of Sam's bald- ■ 
ing pate. "Money's tight right-now," he said, 
adding as he looked Sam up and down, "I 
always thought you were a bigger man," 

"Not too big io collect a debt, sonny," Sam 
replied. "At least you aren't overdriving your 
longbeams anymore." 

"I never drive over my head, pops. Never 
oici it never will." 

"Good that you know your limitations," Sam 
told him, and raised booze-laced coffee in 

Spoken softly, lazily: "They're beyond 
yours, old man, the best day you ever had." 

Sam studied Machinery's cool demeanor 
too long before, "I think your pink slip's 
showing, dearie," he challenged. 

'Ueez," said Mac. "They haven't called it a 
'pink slip run' for ten years. But we can still 
do it, gramps. These days it's a banzai run." 

"What do you call it when you lose?" 

"I've never had to learn that," Mac said. 

Then il escalated. Hernando made it worse 
by telling Sam he'd drunk too much. Sam, 
glowing with anger, said around his thick 
tongue that he could beat Mac for fifty yards 
' driving a bloody school bus, if Mac had a 

Mac thought this was booze talking until 
Sam blurted out the secret of the Big Spring. 
Mac admitted it might just be possible to 
beat a Bella that way. For fifty yards. 

Well then, Sam snarled, he could stay un- 
passed for a hundred yards, given a little 
head start. This, too, Mac judiciously admit- 
ted. Sam, furious by now, upped his goad to 
five hundred yards, then a full mile, while I 
tried to untoungle my tang. When Pat 
MacHinery finally struck the bargain, he had 
Sam in an outrageous bind and me in a gib- 
bering panic. If Sam lost— and he was sure - 
to — he couldn't hand the bus over because 
it was clearly marked municipal property. 

"Don't worry 'bout it, kid," Sam slipped me 
a sozzled horse wink. "I get to start in the 
lead. And he's gotta take you for ballast." 

"Right. I'll try to think fat," I said, sick of the 
whole business. 

"Here's a good-luck charm," Sam said, 

lurching against me with the tiny black box 

from his jacket. "It's heavy," he added, and 

in my condition that seemed reasonable 

. enough. I pocketed it. 

Hernando actually did have a heart. He 
tried to talk Sam out of his idiot wager: 
heaped scorn on MacHinery for setting out 
to humiliate an old man. Neither contestant 
was swayed, and in the end Hernando held 
the pink slips for the victor. 

So at two in the morning I strapped into 
Pat MacHinery's Bella again and felt a hard, 
cold kernel of sobriety take root in my brain. 
Sam let the bus warm up, knelt heavily be- 
side Mac, and shouted over the Bella's growl, 
"Yer course is from here to Chevy Chase 
Drive, and then to the Pasadena Freeway." 

"Crazy coot," Mac yelled back, "Chevy 
Chase Drive is as twisted as your mind! Ah, 
whatthefuck, I'll pass you like bran flakes 
anyhow. You'li never see Chevy Chase, you 
old fool." And with that he slapped the Per- 
spex window shut. 

Sam doddered back to the bus, backed 
it up awhile, then levered the folding door 
closed. I think it was that homely accordion- 
fold door that made me realize just how in- 
sane this bet was. I couldn't even think of a 
good parallel; there was no wilder mismatch 
than a Le Mans Bella against a lumbering 
yellow school bus for a mile. Unless that big 

spring held untapped magic. 

Then, with my helmet comm set patched 
into. Mac's, I saw him leer in the dim phos- 
phorescence of his gauges. "If he was any- 
body else, I'd be ashamed to bamboozle a 
drunk," he grated. "What do you say?" 

'COME ON, BIG SPRING!" I shouted, al- 
most sober now. And suddenly it came on. 
"Holy mother macushla Machree," Mac 
gaped, as the city ofspfhngville hurtled off 
in a spray of divots that almost buried us. 
There was no moon, and Mac's normal driv- 
ing lights bored into a gray fog of tire smoke, 
grit, and gravel. We cannoned away just as 
the bus disappeared around a tight bend, 
and Mac cursed and snapped on the long- 
beams he didn't intend to pay for. And as 
Mac upshifted in the turn, there was the bus 
up ahead, nearly sideways, and going like 
hell's clappers. We weren't gaining an inch! 
There's a problem few people understand 
who haven't hotlapped a real race car: vi- 
bration. It blurs your vision, loosens the fill- 
ings in your teeth, tries to turn your synapses 
to mush. Mac barely made the turn onto 
Chevy Chase, and the bus, maintaining its 
lead, delayed so long I didn't think Sam could 
possibly make it. The broad yellow butt 
slewed, straightened just ahead, and Mac 
pulled left to pass, and the bus swerved to 
cut us off. 

"Shut the gate on me, you old bastard." 
Mac grated. By now we'd done a hail mile. 
"Come on, big spring!" someone yelled. 
You' know damn well who. 

Now we were into the twisty stuff. 
.SkraaAAww, with gum balls scrabbling for 
traction, whooOORAaa, whooOOMM from 
nine hundred aluminum stallions at my back. 
BLAaa-lickety-CLANG as Mac bottomed his 
bellhousing in the next hairpin. Then up 
through the gears again, pulling close to a 
full gee with that awesome twin turbo. 

And without gaining ,■= mil imeler. it seemed 
to me that Sam was taking awfully late lines 
through the turns, but most of the time I had 
double vision from the steady skull-powder- 
ing vibration, and whatever Sam was doing, 
he wasn't getting passed. On one long 
straight, Mac jinked left, then right, and lit up 
the gum balls trying to pass. And every- 
where that Bella went, the bus was sure to 
go — and still jusi far enough ahead to let Mac 
prepare for the turns. 

When we howWWLLIled onto a straight 
well-lit boulevard, I realized we were nearing 
the freeway. "He's done it! We've gone over 
a mile," I crowed, maybe a little loud be- 
cause at that point Mac ripped away his 
headset leads. 

Not in my headset, but filling the cockpit, 
droned a MacHinery battle hymn: "No god- 
damn school bus [WOWWUi onto the on 
ramp] is gonna eat my lunch [BOOMmaa, 
BOOMMM up through the cogs onto a broad 
black freeway ribbon in the deadest dead of 
night]— banzaiiil" 

And I watched the tach needle sweep over 
past six toward seven thousand in fifth, his 
highest gear. Now the song of that engine 
was an all-encompassing thunder, rising to 
a hellish howl as the tach needle neared the 
} ON page m 



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persons— so easily and naturally— 
make friends? What makes some men 
and women capable of mastering any 
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know what these psychical functions 


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will pel rewritten. In 

ists announced they are going 
aboard the shuttle an 

id tor all that 

1 for the environment." It was tt 
irchers at Harvard, working ui 
a $300,000 contract ' 
ment of Energy, invented a negotiating 
game that teaches j— - *■ 
come local oppo - "— 
dump. And 
year both 

lenger, marking what Pepsi i 

... ... ."he organizatic. . .^ ...>. ., 

chonian Society, a group of "geocen- 

d " The iiirinp inr thsts" who believe that the earth is th 

,,,,., „,„, 3 , center of the solar system and tt - -' " 

-utive editor. As pernican astronomy, a: 

usual, the only part of the secret sefec- geology, are merely plo^ 

tion process he shared with us was his Bible. They believe their Class III shuttle 

expense account, itself a candidate for package, if approved, will confirm what 

-"--,_ the qood book has been telling them for 

- :^.,;. ||Sg£| 9BS|E 

LOST. . . 



"We found an unstudied civilization and 
tamed people, 1 ' declared archae- 
n, of the Uni- 
>n was part of 

a four-man expedition that visited a 
tifully preserved pre-lncan city of 
Pajaten, in the Peruvian Andes. In 

nouncement last February, a tew salient 
; overlooked- One was that the 
' / pretty well-known for a 




it that To psychologist Ctai 

sensi- l of human 

...,„.„„n sent Bio havior,' hegaves 

ie deqree of risk and has be- Health Centers a sample of cow blood. drinks and others up to four stiff shots. 

-.„,, — buj I'.-n, a I km ™,i,,Hirithar-nmpany not recognize He then asked the groups to help do 

lan, it diagnosed the some boring proofreading. Guess who 

ir as being allergic to yogurt, cot- were the most helpful. (Our proofreader 

r just clicking your heels. I tage cheese, and cow's milk. says Steele's study is triffic.) 



Munn Munn 

The nitrates and nitrites in bacc 
ample, declared 

National Researc. _.,. . 

this year by a British study 


tower incidence of stomach cancer than 


, icer in lab animals: peanut 

butter. We recommend Hipping a coin 





" Boyd, of Kansas City, offers an un- 
al service, past-life therapy, to a pre- 
ferred clientele: stuffed animals of any 

creed, or fur texture, any teddy or bunny 
can ask Boyd to peer into its fuzzy past 
and have its former lives described. In 

Francisco, Boyd related f 

In its previous life it 

Boyd said, had been damaged 
1906 earthquake and later dropped into 
San Francisco Bay. For other button- 
eyed souls more curious about their 
present or future, Boyd will 


Representative Fred Williams 
has his way, blowing your nose in a Mis- 
- - iri restaurant could add $200 to the 

. Defending a proposed ni 
ing ban, he said: "If we can cr C aic »*» 
that require people to wear seat belts 
and helmets in the name of public safety, 
then we can take care of the nose bl 
ers in that name also." Bless you, F 

More maddening than the Chinese water 
torture, more excruciating than bamboo 
under the fingernails, more dreaded than 
the rack, is the screeeeeching sound 
chalk makes when dragged across a 
blackboard. For those of you (and you 
know who you are) who want to improve 
your chalk-screeching technique, 1985 
offered a breakthrough. Houston re- 
searchers Herbert Kunts and Robert 

ing noise is to i 
i the point of contact 
and hold it perpendicular to the black- 
board. Kinder souls can eliminate the 
squeal by sticking a lump of putty on the 
end of the chalk. 


may be less likely to become an alco- 
holic than those who boast how well they 
can "hold their liquor" and walk a straight 
line. According to a study conducted by 
Dr. March Shuckit, of the University of 
California in San Diego, people with 
family histories of alcoholism sway less 
after three or four drinks than those 

thinks this suggests a simple drink 
sway test to detect a genetic predispo- 
-"- alcoholism. 

Opposite: creationist surgery (tar lett); yum 
yum (top); 



back and did physicals and ihe whole smash 
for one year and brought himself right back 
up to speed, 1 ' Kerwin says. 'And that's not 
easy when you're pushing fifty." 

Thornton, too, took pride in his perfor- 
mance. "As an old man," he says, smiling, "I 
don't agree with this idea that people have 
to produce before the age of twenty-six. 
There is no medical evidence of deteriora- 
tion in the different systems of the human 
being until abou; I ho ace oi seventy-five." 

The living proof of his theory has been his 
own activity level after the age of fifty. Both 
Thornton and Dr. Thomas Moore, who joined 
NASA in 1983, were still calculating the ex- 
act details on fluid shifts in the body when 
Thornton was asked to study an ongoing 
problem — spacesickness. Hundreds of sci- 
entists had investigated this disorienting 
syndrome, but not one had been able to pin- 
point a cause or find an effective way to pre : 
vent or treat it. Part of the problem; Scientists 
were equaling soaces:ckness with car- and 
seasickness. Spacesickness, Thornton ar- 
gued, happened only in space. "You cant 
reproduce it on Earth," he says. "So the only 
place to study it is in space." 

Like all of Thornton's major break- 
throughs, the premise was deceptively sim- 
ple. But the follow-through involved complex 
medical procedures. With the endorsement 
of Dr. Sam Poole,- director of Medical Re- 
search at Johnson Space Center. Thornton, 
along with Dr. Norman Thagard and Dr. 
Moore, built the first electrophysiological 
laboratory aboard the shuttle, outfitted with 
instruments commonly used in neurological 
clinics. The three designed experiments. on 
astronauts to test for the causes of space 
motion sickness. 

. "First we had to define the thing," Thorn- 
ton explains. Previously, this route had been 
ruled out as being too complex and too ex- 
pensive. But Thornton had no trouble imple- 
menting a string of neurological tests at a 
reasonable cost. As a result, he began to 
define this disorieniing syndrome. 

The culmination cl tnese medical investi- 
gations caine on August 30, 1983. After 
nearly a 16-year wait, Thornton was to be- 
come his own best test subject — and the 
oldest person ever to fly in space. "I had been 
convinced if he were al.owed to fly, he would 
speed up the discovery of the cause and 
solution for space motion sickness by years," 
recalls Commander Richard Truly, who 
served as captain of Chuiienger (STS-8). ' 

Though Thornton wasn't originally sched- 
uled for the trip, Truly requested him as a 
last-minute passenger. "Having observed Ihe 
symptoms oi space mo:ior syndrome [pal- 
lor, vomiting, dizziness] from many thou- 
sands of miles." Moore says, "Bill was finally 
getting his first , opportunity to experience 
them himself."* 

The physician soon became a patient. "Of 
course I got sick. That was really most for- 
tunate, "he jokes. "It would have been a ma- 

72 OMNI 

jor disaster if I hadn't." 

As Commander Truly predicted. Thorn- 
ton's passage aboard the fi ght paid off, His 
personal observe, on;., alorg with other data 
he'd collected, put him "years ahead." Al- 
though there is still no way to prevent — or 
even treat — space motion sickness, re- 
searchers now have a better idea of why it 
occurs in the first place. It is a gravity- related 
condition thai arises according to Thorn- 
ton's diagnosis, from a "conflict between the 
gravity-dependent organs in the inner ear, 
which are responsible for directional sig- 
nals, and the gravity-independent semicir- 
cular canals." In all cases, the stricken are 
able to adapt and overcome the symptoms 
within 8 to 36 hours. 

"The only consistent' 1 / re lable indicator of 
space motion syndrome in all people is the 
virtual absence of gaslric motility during the 
course of the syndrome," Thornton says. He 
is convinced that the "best potential avenue" 
for understand no the conc't on lies in study- 
ing "stomach and bowel noises." 

*mCan you see 
what I'm getting at? The 

upshot is, Men 

and women who've spent 

several decades 

. in space may never be able 

to return to Earth 
as physically normal humans* 

Though he hss oxpot mc-nled with medi- 
cations, none have proved elective: At first, 
"It seemed logical to try agents that were 
known to incease gasmc motility." Though 
initially they appeared to work well, the ef- 
fects are now questionable. When he ad- 
ministered dosages of scopolamine dex- 
edrine, the most t'eguent'y used medication 
for motion sickness on Earth, the results were 
not encouraging. 

Thornton's next orbit, aboard the ill-fated 
Spacelab 3, launched April 29, 1985, was 
not exactly the hoped-for sequel. Sched- 
uled to conduct the first medical experi- 
ments in space on rats and monkeys (a plan 
that setoff the already vo.slile animals rights' 
groups), this latter-day Noah spent most of 
his time cleaning up his charges' free-float- 
ing' waste." The highlight of the trip was what 
he' called a "ninety-minute walk around the 
earth" on the treadmill. 

But just one month earlier, in April, Thorn- 
ton had cause for' celebration. For years 
Thornton had looked for the perfect volun- 
teer to collect-information for his shifting- 
body-fluids theory. In fact, he had asked 
Moore to construct a "stocking plethysmo- 
graph" that would allow the wearer to record 

changes in leg size during orbit. Moore 
"bought some panty hose, went up to the 
[NASA] sewing shop, asked how to work the 
sewing machine, and kepi on persisting," 

Although the soccial s:ocKing had been 
worn by astronauts on earlier missions, the 
data collected were, still incomplete. Then 
along came Jake Garn. "Senator Garn pro- 
vided us with Ihe most extorsive and com- 
plete medical records of fluid shifts during 
spacen'ight." says Thornton, who is still ana- 
lyzing ihe data. 

In the interest of space medicine. Thorn- 
ton had also assigned Garn to monitor a 
number of other physical rcacl'ons to space 
travel. Sensors measured a variety of body 
responses to liftoff and entry; electrodes 
surveyed brain waves, and stethoscopes 
tracked bowel sounds. Like Thornton, the 
fifty-three-year-old Republican also be- 
came sick- -with science's oessing. 

Garn is quick to praise Thornton for his 
guidance. "I never met a more dedicated 
and personable human being," says the Utah 
politician. On the day that Garn returned, 
Thornton was only two days away from being 
quarantined for his own upcoming mission. 
But that Saturday, he went into the lab to run 
the data from Garn's medical experiments. 
"I couldn't believe it," Garn says. " Are you 
crazy?' I asked him. He said, 'I just couldn't 
wait to look at this until I got back from space. 
I had to see it now.' " 

Ever mindful of the astronauts' health, 
Thornton has begun to speculate on the 
long-term effects of weightlessness. The 
measures now employed, such as daily ex- 
ercise, will have little effect on those men 
and women desi ned to spend decades — 
perhaps even their whole lives — in space. 

"You see, Ihe longer the period spent in 
weightlessness," he explains, "the more sig- 
nificant the changes in the musculoskeletal 
.syslem. This is p-orlicularly true of the lower 
body, where there's likely to. be less muscle- 
tissue development. 

"The lower body may never develop suf- 
ficient strength in certain leg muscles and 
the lower back. This means thin leg bones 
with relatively lit lie muscle mass," he contin- 
ues. "The upper extremities, in contrast, will 
increase slightly in length. They may well 
come to resemble the slender muscles of 
our arboreal relatives. 

"These changes will impact on the body's 
other systems. A decrease in muscle will 
mean reduced metabolism that will result in 
a shrinkage in the size of the heart and 
lungs," he adds. Those humans born in 
space "will probably never develop the ca- 
pacities for locomotion as practiced forcen- 
turies in the environment of one g." He 
pauses, and his tone grows somber, "Can 
you see what I'm getting at? The upshot of 
all this is, Men and women may never be 
able to return to Earth as normal human 
beings. It may not be possible to go home." 

As long as space- physic.ans I ke Thornton 
are caring for space cews. however, the fu- 
ture of humankind is a'l but assured. "If I were 
to get sick in space," says Ken Cooper, "Bill 
Thornton would be my doctor."DO 

Marion shepherded six personalities in her 



In January 1984 we wroie a short article in Continuum about 
multiple personality disorder (MPD), Ine bizarre psychiatric 
syndrome known in the Vernacular as "split. personality." You 
may know it as The Three Faces of Eve syndrome, after 
the 1957 best seller. Several weeks after the article appeared, we 
received a well-written and thoughtful letter from "M. M, George." 


a self- described "multiple." We wrote back, 
eventually establishing contact with Marion, 
the thirty-five-year-old Massachusetts 

woman behind the pseudonym (M. M. 
George is an amalgam of her three major 
personalities: Mary, Monica, and George). 
Marion is not her real name, either; proper 
names and certain personal details in Ihis 
article have been changed to protect her 
identity. But her life as a multiple, as verified 
by her psychiatrist, is painfully real. 

/ am thirty-five years old, and I have been 
multiple for thirty-two years, because I was 
three when it started. I was molested a lot 
by my stepfather, and when I was six I was 
raped. My core personality went out at age 
six, and my host personality, Mary, took over. 
Only one person in my family knows. That's 
the case with most multiple personalities. You 
just don't see it if you're not looking lor it. My 
first husband, poor dear, never knew what 
hit him. See, part of my personality went to 
sleep for a year and woke up married to Ed- 
die—that's my ex-husband— and I could not 
tolerate him. Monica was the one who mar- 
ried him. What happened was that Mary's 
fiance had drowned, and when he drowned 
she konked out for a year. When she woke 
up married to Eddie she couldn't stand him. 
She also resented being thrown into this sit- 
uation because she didn't know she was a 
multiple at the time. She didn't know that 
Monica existed. 

Like most multiples, Marion has been 
through more trials than Job, including mis- 
diagnosis as a schizophrenic, commitment 
to a Bedlamesque state mental hospital, re- 
peated suicide attempts, inappropriate drug 
treatment, even a would-be exorcism. Until 
recently multiple personality disorder was 
usually dismissed as a rare and rococo psy- 
chiatric hoax. If a many-faced Eve ap- 
peared on the couch, mainstream psychia- 
try labeled her (for most multiples are female) 
a schizophrenic, a manic-depressive, or a 
clever, manipulative fake. The general pub- 
lic frequently confuses multiple personality 
with schizophrenia, a far more common and 
debilitating disorder characterized by wildly 
disorganized thought and a loss of contact 
with the environment. 

Psychiatrist Frank Putnam discovered his 
first multiple languishing in a ward for de- 
pressives at the National Institute of Mental 
Health (NIMH) — glum, suicidal, unrespon- 
sive to treatment. "She had been presented 
at grand rounds as a classic example of var- 
ious neurological diseases— brain tumor, 
epilepsy, you name it," he tells us. "In my 
therapy group she went through a series of 
startling changes that she did not acknowl- 
edge. Usually she was withdrawn, hostile, 
and quiet, and then she'd shift and become 
witty, laughing and making puns." 

That was 1979, and over the next few years 

Adapted Irom the -book The Three-Pound Uni- 
verse, by Judith Hooper and Dick Teresi. Copy- 
right © 7986 by Judith Hooper and Dick Teres/, 
to be published by Macmillan. 
76 OMNI 

Putnam went on to study some 150 "Eves," 
rigorously analyzing their brains as well as 
their psyches. "When I got into multiple per- 
sonality disorder, I got so involved in it I es- 
sentially gave up everything else," he says. 
He and his co-workers at the MIMH and St. 
Elizabeths Hospital, inWashington.cannow 
report that the alternate selves inside a mul- 
tiple are more real and more autonomous 
than anyone suspected. 

Putnam, working with NIMH colleague 
Monte Buchbaum, began his studies by 
analyzing the brain waves of ten multiples. 
He exposed each personality to flashes ot 
light and then, using electrodes attached to 
the scalp, measured the brain's electrical re- 
sponse, called an evoked potential. 

"In each multiple we studied at least three 
different personalities that were capable of 
cooperating — usually, the core personality, 
a child personality, and an obsessive-com- 
pulsive personality," Putnam explains. 'And 
we tested each personality at least five times. 
For controls we used normal actors, who 

4/jfte most 

multiples, Marion had been 

through more 

trials than Job, including 

commitment to 

a mental hospital, suicide 

attempts, drug 

treatment, even an exorcism.^ 

merely imagined being different people." His 
results elevated split personality from late- 
late-show melodrama to hard neuroscience. 
The actors' brain-wave, or electroencepha- 
logram (EEG), patterns didn't change much 
from one feigned personality to another. But 
the Sybils, Joes, Harriets, and Marys inhab- 
iting each multiple patient looked like differ- 
ent people, neuroelectrically speaking. 
MPD — which California psychiatrist Ralph 
Allison likens to a cancer of the personality, 
because selves multiply like malignant 
cells — proved to have a basis in biology. 

Putnam probed further. With NIMH's Dan- 
iel Weinberger he did cerebral blood-flow 
studies (in which inhaled radioactive xenon 
is used to illuminate active brain regions) and 
reported "striking differences" between dif- 
ferent personalities. Since it's common to find 
both left-handed and right-handed charac- 
ters inside a multiple, Putnam did a series of 
physiological tests and found correspond- 
ing shifts in hemispheric dominance. 

"We now know of a thousand cases," says 
Putnam. "So while it's a rare disorder, it may 
not be as rare as we thought." Eighty-five 
percent of the victims are women. "But," says 
Putnam, "I suspect that there are many un- 

recognized male multiples in the criminal- 
justice system because they usually have 
one personality that's violent." In 1978 Wil- 
liam Milligan, of Columbus, Ohio, became 
the first person in the United States acquit- 
ted of a major crime (four counts of rape) by 
reason of multiple identity. His ten person- 
alities included an intellectual named Arthur 
who spoke in a clipped, British manner; sev- 
eral child personalities; two lesbians; "Ra- 
gan," a feisty male with a Slavic accent who 
threatened to fire his lawyers; and an es- 
cape artist named Tommy, who once slith- 
ered out of a straitjacket in ten seconds flat. 
Though each personality knew the differ- 
ence between right and wrong, all of them 
together did not compose a whole person, 
according to the psychiatrists who testified 
at the trial — ergo Milligan could not be held 
responsible for his crimes. 

Many multiples, however, shuffle through 
their pack of selves inconspicuously, work- 
ing as corporate lawyers, secretaries, PTA 
presidents, or dentists — incognito even to 
themselves. The first hint may be odd gaps 
in the temporal stream, disquieting memory 
lapses, perhaps the Twilight Zone experi- 
ence of waking up in a strange motel room 
with a perfect stranger (if not married to one). 

One day in 1979 I woke up — or rather, 

Mary woke up — in a motel room with some- 
body Monica was involved with. I called my 
psychiatrist at four a.m. and said, "All right, 
what's going on here?" He said, "Okay, it's 
time we talked." 

That's when we discovered Monica. And 
shortly afterward we discovered George. 
and we have that on tape. Since I have it on 
tape I can listen to all three personality 
voices — Mary, Monica, and George — and 
they're ail different. George had kind of a 
deeper voice. Monica's was light and lilting. 

Lurking somewhere behind all the per- 
sonae is the original, the core personality, 
which may take years to unearth, In the 
meantime the "host," the facade that the pa- 
tient uses to simulate unity, presides like a 
long-term guest host on the Johnny Carson 
show. Usually, no one perceives the change. 
Typically, some of the personalities are more 
charismatic, more flamboyant, than the rather 
drab original. But despite their myriad iden- 
tities, most multiples are not psychotic, ac- 
cording to Putnam, and may function quite 
well, often delegating different tasks to each 
of the personalities. 

Mary was a marvelous artist, a good writer, 
a moderate singer. Monica was the real 
singer in the bunch; she had a beautiful 
voice. In my high-school chorus I was listed 
in three different categories — second so- 
prano, which was Mary; alto, which was 
Monica; and George was first tenor. It didn't 
happen very often, but whenever my sing- 
ing teacher needed an extra voice he'd put 
me in wherever, because I had a three-oc- 
tave range. Mostly I was in the alto range, 
which was Monica's range. . . . I don't con- 
sider myself as good now. My husband 


This former National Security 

Agency chief, who now heads the 

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 

says 1986 is a bonanza year for 

gathering intelligence about 

the planets of the solar system 


Startling, ghostly images 
and data downlinks from 
spacecraft streaking by 
Halley's Comet pour in from the 
Deep Space Tracking Network, 
whose gianl antenrTas scan the 
heavens from outposts around the 
world. The liny Voyager 2 space- 
craft darts through the bull's-eye 
target rings of the mysterious green 
planet Uranus and transmits con- 
tinuous streams of information back 
to Earth. All of these data are re- 
ceived, shifted, probed and ana- 
lyzed by the space and planetary 
scientists of the Jet Propulsion 

Laboratory {JPL), in Pasadena, 
California. JPL's planetary pro- 
gram is arguably the crowning 
masterpiece of American technol- 
ogy; the information that flows into 
its computers is revolulionizing our 
vision of the solar system, realign- 
ing our beliefs about the universe. 
Founded in 1944 as a military 
missile development site, JPL 
largely terminated its affiliation with 
the Army in 1958 and became a 
NASA installation under the civilian 
auspices of Caitech. From its in- 
ception, JPL's primary concern has 
been the U.S. unmanned plane- 


lary space program. The lab built the Ex- 
plorer 1, the first U.S. satellite in orbit and the 
one that discovered the Van Allen radiation 
belt. JPL was the home port for the Rangers 
and Surveyors spacecraft fhal went to the 
moon; the Mariners that investigated Mars, 
Venus, and Mercury, the Vikings that landed 
on Mars; and most recently, the Voyagers 
that flew by Jupiter and Saturn. One of the 
Voyagers is now moving in on Uranus and 
Neptune. In the last 25 years JPL has be- 
come a world center of planetary science, 
handling research, development, and 
spaceflight activities of the U.S. exploration 
of- the solar system. 

A few years ago, however, JPL was in 
trouble. Serious cutbacks in government 
■ funding were wiping out future projects. 
Hopes for missions (o Venus and Halley's 
Comet were dashed. In a desperate, last- 
ditch effort to save the laboratory, then di- 
rector Bruce Murray reluctantly decided to 
solicit work from the old boss, the military. 
He succeeded in this forced maneuver, and 
up to 30 percent of JPL's budget was con- 
signed to classified research for the Depart- 
ment of Defense (DoD). In July 1982 Murray 
resigned his post. In the leadership vacuum, 
JPL went to an unlikely candidate, a man 
who spent most of his adult life in Intelli- 
gence areas so classified he couldn't tell you 
about them it he wanted to. Lew Allen, a for- 
mer chief of staff of the Air Force, former di- 
rector of the National Security Agency (NSA), 
and a leading expert in the military space 
program, was recruited to save JPL's re- 
search program and to hold back the mili- 
tary's involvement. 

No sooner had Allen taken over as direc- 
tor than the budget problems plaguing JPL 
began to lift; new projects were approved, 
and more were encouraged, and a spirit of 
optimism swept through the lab. Allen re- 
structured JPL efficiently, stressing techni- 
cal innovation and achievement within the 
limited architecture ot JPL's physical and 
monetary confines. Today the lab, busier than 
it has been in a decade, is the focus of the 
world's attention, as Voyager passes Ura- 
nus, and data from the international fleet oi 
Halley's Comet flybys are captured through 
JPL's deep-space antennas in California, 
Spain, and" Australia. 

Lew Allen, a tall, solid man of sixty, looks 
comfortable at the helm. His gray suit, tai- 
lored shirt, and fringe of hair are all well 
groomed. But the grooming doesn't stop 
there: Allen is a man who is in control of 
everything he says and does. Presentation 
is an important factor. From his ingratiating 
laugh that steers him away from subjects he'd 
prefer not to discuss to his continual use of 
the third-person impersonal — "one thinks 
this, one prefers that" — he gives nothing 
away. Allen directs by purporting to be less 
than the authority in any one area; he is only 
the ultimate authority. He wants the focus to 
be absolutely clear but not necessarily on 
him. As he says, "It is probably an indication 
of my inadequacy that I have never had a 
clear view of where I wanted to go but rather 
had a very clear understanding of the pres- 

ent that was exciting and mportant to me." 
This limited but directed perspective has 
guided Allen from one major accomplish- 
ment to another. 

The only child of parents long separated, 
Allen left Gainesv lie. Texas, a., seventeen and 
entered West Point. He was younger than 
many of his fellow cadets but bright and de- 
termined. While at West Point he learned to 
pilot a plane, and in flying he found glamour, 
excitement, and a command of technology. 
"It was an opportunity to control a sophisti- 
cated machine," he says, "and make it do 
what I wanted it to do under demanding cir- 
cumstances." Upon his graduation from West 
Point, Allen was assigned to the Strategic Air 
Command at Carswell Air Force Base, in 
Texas, just after the United States had det- 
onated the firsl nuclear devices over Japan. 
His first assignment was to study the mech- 
anisms of carrying nuclear weapons on air- 
craft. In 1952 he entered the University of 
Illinois. There he earned a doctorate in 
physics after completing a thesis on high- 

QOne works 

hard to protect intelligence 

methods, knowing 

all along that the one thing that 

can undermine 
you is a subordinate. Then to 

see espionage 
occurring is discouraging.^ 

energy photonuclear reactions — reactions 
induced by photons, the elementary parti- 
cles of light. Then, at the Atomic Energy 
Commission's lab at Los Alamos, New Mex- 
ico, he conducted experiments in the phys- 
ics of thermonuclear weapons (heat-gener- 
ated nuclear weaponry). He also studied the 
effects of high-altitude nuclear detonations 
for Papistic missile defense. 

With the gallows humor that seems to 
flourish in those harrowing environments, Al- 
len tells the story of the Los Alamos scien- 
tists' quest tor the driest martini. "On Bimini 
Island," he recounts, "we'd place a bottle of 
vermouth next to the bomb. And of course it 
would be vaporized by the blast. We'd then 
sit in our Quonset huts, and the joke was, if 
you wanted a dry martini, you'd put your 
glass out' for thirty seconds. If you wanted a 
very dry martini, you'd put your glass out for 
five minutes." The vaporized vermouth would 
allegedly settle down in the fallout, and voila, 
the world's driest martini. The only problem, 
of course, would be the slightly radioactive 
hangover with a half-life, he adds, of well over 
100 years. 

By the early Sixties, Allen, now investigat- 
ing -high-altitude rocketry, was assigned to 

the DoD's Space Technology Office. Then 
he went to the Air Force, and from there to 
the Pentagon, ultimately presiding as direc- 
tor of space systems. In the Seventies he 
entered the intelligence community, becom- 
ing the deputy to the director of the Central 
Intelligence Agency. Six months later he was 
director of the National Security Agency. 
NSA, considered to be the most secret of 
U.S. intelligence organizations, supplies in- 
telligence to the CIA — and. as Allen discov- 
ered upon taking over, to the FBI (surrepti- 
tiously for a time). 

Allen's NSA appointment came at the 
height of Watergate, when every intelligence 
agency was under suspicion. He was the 
first NSA director to ever appear before 
Congress. He met with the Pike Committee, 
the Church Senate Committee, and Bella 
Abzug's Government Information Commit- 
tee (committees investigating U.S. intelli- 
gence activities). And Abzug, he says, got 
under his skin. Mrs. Allen recalls that during 
that time, her husband vented his anger at 
pictures of Abzug hung around the house. 
In 1978 Allen returned to the Air Force to be- 
come chief of staff. Three months after he 
retired from the Air Force in June 1982, he 
assumed his position as the head of JPL. 

Allen spends his small amount of free time 
scuba diving, skydiving, and ballooning with 
his family. He is quick to anticipate conclu- 
sions drawn about his private, nonadminis- 
trative character. "I'm afraid when one asks 
these kinds of questions, it would show that 
to a certain degree I'm adventuresome. But 
it's really more proper to characterize me as 
being billed with a few elements of escape." 
His philosophy has always been simple, he 
says. "If you are fortunate enough to enjoy 
what you are doing, then dedicate yourself 
to that, and be happy that what you're doing 
is important and making a contribution." Ron 
Schultz visited Allen in the scientist's JPL of- 
fice and at his Pasadena home on the edge 
ol the Arroyo Seco. 

Omni: As former NSA director and deputy 
to the director of the CIA, you can really keep 
a secret, I imagine. 
Allen; [No reply] 

Omni: How did you escape the overwhelm- 
ing pressure you faced as head of NSA? 
Allen; My main purpose in life has been to 
draw on others' talents so that I would be 
measured not by what I did but by what they 
did. My skills were less in bearing an awe- 
some responsibility than in ensuring that an 
organization worked properly. I don't think I 
ever held a position I didn't completely en- 
joy, so I never needed to escape. 
Omni: During the Seventies, what was the 
most difficult decision you had to make? 
Allen: While I was in NSA the investigation 
into the intelligence community was under 
way. The question was how we would han- 
dle Congress, which was enthusiastically 
seeking to find fault. We had to be cooper- 
ative and at the same time protective of NSAs 
intelligence capability. The difficulty was de- 
laying our appearance before Congress un- 
til we had done the appropriate work with 



down unexplained aerial 

phenomena Is 

official business in France.^ 

When an unidentified 
Ifying object is re- 
ported in the United 
Stales, local authori- 
ties frequently dis- 
miss )he alleged 
sighting as a hoax of 
mistake. If the inci- 
dent is investigated at 
all, II is usually done so 
by a private group of 
unpaid volunteer UFO 
researchers operat- 
ing on a shoestring 
budget. 8ut in France, 
It's a different story. 
There, tracking down 
unexplained aerial 
phenomena has be- 
come serious govern- 
ment business. 

It ali began in 1977, 
when the Centre Na- 
tional DttvOes Spa- 
fates (ONES), which 
is roughly equivalent _ — ^^^^^^^^^^^™^ 
to NASA, established 

Group Deludes Phanomenes Aerospauaux Won Identities 
(GEPAN}. GEPAN, French officials declared, would not only 
investigate UFO reports but would also direct studies of any 
physical evidence related to the signtings. "The agency grew 
out ot a public demand following testimonies of UFO sight- 
ings from distinguished French citizens," GEPAN's chief, 
Jean-Jacques Velasco. relates. "The French military had also 
sighted unexplained aerial phenomena and wanted some 
official explanation " 

Following Its mandate. GEPAN has worked closely with 
French police to log some 1 ,600 UFO reports over the past 
11 years. "The majority," Velasco emphasizes, "have been 
explained as natural phenomena or aircraft. But thirty-eight 
percent are still question marks." 

ed by those question marks, CNES recently spon- 
sored meetings In Paris and Toulouse to discuss GEPAN's 
research ana to exchange information with foreign UFO re- 
searchers. Among the topics covered were examples of 

physical evidence left 
in the wake of UFO 
sightings "People will 
often point to a mark 
on the ground or a 
broken tree branch 
and dismiss it be- 
cause it could be 
faked," notes atten- 
dee J. Allen Hynek, 
director of the Center 
for UFO Studies, 
based in Scottsdale, 
Arizona- But an 
American case was 
presented that in- 
volved people with ra- 
diation burns on their 
eyes and bodies fol- 
lowing a UFO en- 
counter. No one is 
going to fake that," 

In one incident dis- 
cussed at the meet- 
ing by Investigators, 
^"^^^^^^^L_ _ deformed vegetation 
was discovered in the 
French countryside where a "flying saucer" reportedly 
landed ana then zoomed away. French police collected the 
damaged plants, and GEPAN asked scientists to examine 
the vegetation Their (indings? The plants had lost 50 per- 
cent of their chlorophyll. Researchers were unable to explain 
this deficit or to reproduce it in normal plants. 

"We exchanged databases containing details of these 
cases and hundreds of others." Hynek comments. 'And we've 
agreed that when the French have a hot case, they'll trans- 
mit it to us, and we'll do the same with them. UFOs are a 
global phenomenon, and this kind of cooperation is enor- 
mously Important it we are to understand what is going on ." 
Why haven't other governments followed France's lead 
and established official channels for UFO investigations'' 
'There are reports that the USSR has a program similar tc 
GEPAN's," Velasco answers. "But In general, UFOs are not 
considered the domain of governments because they aren't 
seen as military or security threats."— SHERRY BAKER 

Jack Swedberg was in the 
Massachusetts wilderness 
one August morning in 1968 
when he saw it cross the 
road in front of him. Swed- 
berg. now the senior wildlife 
photographer lor Ihe Massa- 
chusetts Division of Rshenes 
and Wildlife, says, "There's 
absolutely no question. It 
was a mountain Hon." 

Yet mountain lions, also 
known as cougars, have 
supposedly been extinct In 
every Eastern state except 
Florida (where a small group 
maintains a marginal exist- 
ence deep in the Everglades) 
since the first part of the 
twentieth century, Swedberg's 
sighting — and many hun- 
dreds like it — are challenging 
this conventional wisdom 
and sparking a major dispute 
among America's wildlife 
biologists. The reports have 
been so persistent that 
even though the eastern cou- 
gar does not officially exist, 
the federal government 
has added it to Ihe list of 
endangered species 

"Ninety toninety-five 
percent ol Ihe eyewitnesses 

reporting eastern cougars 
could be mistaken," says 
biologist Robert Downing, 
who, in Ibe late Seventies, 
conducted an extensive 
investigation of eastern cou- 
gar reports tor ihe U.S. 
Forest Service "But the rest 
of the reports are from well- 
qualified people: wildlife 
specialists, hunters, foresters. 
You have to believe what 
they're seeing " 

Another wildlife biologist 
who studied cougar reports 
for the Mew York Department 
of Environmental Conserva- 
!lon Interprets the evidence 
differently. According to 
Rainer Brocke, of the State of 
New York College of Environ- 
mental Science and Forestry, 
'A cougar will leave tracks- 
it's as simple as that If there 
are no Iracks, there are no 
cougars. "Tracks reportedly 
made by cougars do exist 
in abundance, he adds, 
but most turn out to be from 
bobcats or dogs. 

Broeke doesn't dispute 
that credible witnesses have 
seen cougars, he just doesn't 
think they are members of a 
breeding population of the 
eastern subspecies. "More 
people have pet cougars 
than you would believe," he 
says, "and some either 
escape or are let loose," 

But Downing thinks that 
the question of the eastern 
cougar is still open. AH we 
have established so far, 
he believes, is that "it is very 
difficult to locate rare, elusive 
animals in wilderness 
areas." — Jerome Clark 

"Paranoia systems are 
consistent and often well 

After a short illness be- 
lieved to be cholera. Musyoka 
Mutata, of Kitui, Kenya, was 
pronounced dead, and his 
body was sprayed with 
insecticide to ward off files. 
At his funeral the next day, 
hundreds of mourners were 
shocked when Mutata sat 
up in his coffin and asked for 
a drink of wafer. Even more 
surprising, this was not 
the sixty-year-old mans firsl 
funeral. According to the 
Daily Nation, Kenya's national 
newspaper, Mutata has 
returned from the dead twice 

Mutata first "died" when he 
was three years old. After 
being wrapped in blankets 
and lowered into a grave, the 
child screamed and was 
hauled back to Ihe surface. 
Then , at the age of twenty- 
Iwo, Mutata disappeared 
for six days. Some shepherds 
found his cold, still body 
and, assuming the man was 
dead, began to bury him 
Once again, as Mutata was 
being lowered into the 

ground, he allegedly re- 
gained consciousness and 
forced open his coffin's lid. 

Could Mutata's "deaths" be 
traced to neurological prob- 
lems'? Neurologist Herbert 
Karp, of Emory University 
Medical School, says that's 
not likely. "I can't conceive of 
any organic condition affect- 
ing the nervous system 
that could simulate death for 
any period of time." 

"Instead," says Karp, "this 
sounds more like some 
kind of self-induced state 
Through conditional training 
like yoga some people can 
dramatically reduce their 
heart rates and breathing 
patterns Mutata may have 
accomplished a similar 
feat, even if he wasn't con- 
scious of doing so." 

But Mutata has another 
explanation, "It was a case of 
mistaken identity by the 
angels in heaven," he recently 
told the Daily Nation. "There 
appeared to be a row over 
why I was picked to die, and 
some angels decided to 
to Earth." 

— Sherry Baker 

When the author Arthur 
Koestler left some 700,000 
pounds to endow a chair 
of parapsychology at a lead- 
ing University in the British 
Isles, skeptics snorted. When 
the venerable Edinburgh 
University, once home to 
scholars like the skeptical 
philosopher David Hume ani 
the physicist James Clerk 
Maxwell, agreed to establish 
the position, there was out- 
right laughter But when 
it was announced that Ameri- 
can parapsychologist Robert 
Morris (right), of Syracuse 
University, would occupy the 
post, the reaction was one 
of approval, even respect 

Morris, forty-three, is 
already widely respected by 
nonparapsychologists be- 
cause of his rigorous scientific 
standards. "If someone levi- 
tated a spoon for me. that 
would be fine," he says. "But 
he'd still have to come back 
and do it again In the lab 
under the proper conditions. 
People are too impressed 
by single-shot events. 

"When I teach classes on 
parapsychology," Morris 
adds, "I spend about the first 
third on fraud and deception 
That gets the true believers 
out I'd rather teach a class of 

Morris, however, is no 
closet skeptic himself. He's 
"about eighty percent" 
convinced that what is gen- 
erally called psi represents 
something new. And he's 
suspicious of people who 
claim to be 100 percent 
certain of anything. 

Morris, who began his 
work at Edinburgh in Decem- 
ber, is currently studying the 

interactions between humans 
and machines. He is also 
exploring a vanety of tech- 
niques that may develop and 
improve psychic ability 

The message that Morris 
would like to communicate to 
the public is, "First, realize 
that there are a lot of ways we 
can deceive ourselves, 
misinterpreting the world and 
imposing meaning on coinci- 
dence. Second, once we 
lake that into account there is 
still tairly good evidence 
that we have something else, 
but we don't know what it 
is. Or as Sherlock Holmes 
often said, "When you have 
eliminated the impossible, 
whatever remains, however 
improbable, must be the 
truth." — Daniel Cohen 

"Fusion the distinction 
between inner sell and 
outside world, between 
subject and object, 

— Norman O. Brown 

"I've confirmed a lot of 
poltergeist activity while 
couples are engaged in 
violent sex. " 

— Peter Underwood 

hypnotist recently ap- 
proached University of 
Pittsburgh language expert 
Sara Grey Thomason with an 
unusual request - Three of 
his subjects had been re- 
gressed back to earlier 
incarnations, he claimed, ana 
they were able to speak in 
the tongues of their previous 
lives — Bulgarian, Gaelic, 
and Apache. Could Thoma- 
son translate what they 
were saying or at least verify 
that they were speaking 
real languages? 

Thamason agreed, and 
after listening to tapes of the 
sub|ects, felt lhat "what 
they were saying sounded 
fluent and languagelike, even 
to a linguist " But when the 
"languages" were carefully 
analyzed, Thomason found 
they were composed ol 
meaningless sounds appar- 
ently based on each speak- 
er's native tongue and expo- 
sure to other foreign 

A woman who claimed to 
have lived In Bulgaria, for 
example, did use some 
sounds that are common to 
Bulgarian. "But otherwise, it 
was phonetically pretty much 
like English. I think she may 
have heard Bulgarian some- 
time and gotten an idea of 
how the language sounds," 
Thomason notes "So she 
could fake it — although I 
doubt that il was Intentional " 

To makesure the woman 
was not speaking some other 
language thai could have 
been spoken in Bulgaria a 
century ago, Thomason even 
gave the subject a word list 
and asked her to translate the 

vocabulary into her past-life 

"I looked for patterns, in 
particular with numbers," 
Thomason explains. "But 
there weren't any. And there 
just aren't any languages 
lhat don'l have patterns." 

Another subject insisted he 
was the reincarnation of a 
Gaelic-speaking medieval 
knight from Normandy. 
Thomason's verdict? "Gaelic 
is an Irish language but 
this man's 'Gaelic' was com- 
posed ol French sounding 
nasal tones and words lhat 
seemed to be derived from 
French and church Latin." 

A woman who appeared to 
regress to the life of a nine- 
tee n t h-c ent u r y Apa c he 
squaw while under hypnosis 
spoke mostly Pidgin English, 
according to Thomason. 
And the lew words she ut- 
tered in Apache' were ob- 
viously nor from any bona fide 

Says Thomason, "I had to 
conclude that all three of 
these people were speaking 
genuine gibberish " 

—Sherry Baker 

A major problem for para- 
psyctiologisis is the unpre- 
dictability of the phenomena 
they are trying to study. A 
subject can do well on an 
ESP test one day and poorly 
the next, even though the 
conditions of the tests seem 
identical, Now two research- 
ers suggest that the hey to 
the variability may be round in 
changes m the earth's geo- 
magnetic field 

The first study, conducted 
by Marcia Adams, president 
of the Time Research Insti- 
tute of Woodside California, 
Is based on data from re- 
mote-viewing tests conducted 
at SRI International In these 
tests, a person who was 
called a "beacon" was given 
a sealed envelope containing 
a randomly selected destina- 
tion. The beacon drove to 
the location, which, if all went 
well, would be described 
by a subject sitting In a wln- 
dowless room. On some 
days, the subjects did re- 
markably well, on others they 
didn't even get close 

After analyzing five years 
of data, Adams found that in 
the 24- to 48-hour period 

before successful tests, 
geomagnetic-field measure- 
ments were generally low 
Before unsuccessful tests, 
however, measurements 
tended to be high. 

Another approach was 
taken by Michael Persinger, 
professor of psychology 
and neuroscience at the Lau- 
rentian University, in Canada 
Persinger chose to study 
"crisis apparitions," in which 
an individual suddenly "sees" 
or otherwise becomes aware 
of a distant triend or relative 
who is seriously til or at 
the point of death Consulting 
historical data dating back 
to 1868, Persinger found 
there were more of these so- 
called apparitions when 
geomagnetic activity was low, 

No one knows exactly 
what, If anything, the results 
might mean, According to 
Persinger, "The fluctuating 
geomagnetic environment at 
fects all sorts of biological 
activities, and psi may be one 
of them." But psychologist 
Ray Hyman is less enthusias- 
tic "It's unlikely that they 
have a meaningful correla- 
tion," he says. "To find that, 
you must have an awful lot of 
data."— Daniel Cohen 

Merlin might have been 
more than a fictional charac- 
ter in Arthurian legends 
According to historian Nikolai 
Tolstoy, author of The Quest 
lor Merlin (Little, Brown), 
he was also a real figure who 
lived some 1,400 years ago in 
what are now the lowlands 
of Scotland. 

Basing his claim on ancient 
Welsh ballads and historical 
records, Tolstoy says that 
"several medieval manu- 
scripts trom the sixth century 
mention Merlin, and they 
contain a story pertectly con- 
sistent with the history we 
know of that period." Tolstoy 
suspects that poems and 
prophecies credited to Merlin 
in those literary sources 
were not actually written by 
him, instead, they were 
probably derived from an 
earlier, original body of work 
by the wizard, 

Tolstoy says that by study- 
ing these documents, he 
was even able to identify sites 
in Britain where events 
linked to Merlin took place, 
For example, in the poem 
'Afallennau," attributed to 
Merlin, the sorcerer laments 
the death ol King Gwenddo- 
lau and wanders in misery 
in the Caledonian Forest, 
where he is endowed with 
the gift of prophecy. Tolstoy 
searched for additional 
descriptions of Merlin's ref- 
uge. And taking clues from a 
thirteenth-century romance 
about a man who traveled to 
the wizard's mounlaintop 
retreat, he was able to find 
and photograph what he 
believes is Merlin's sacred 

Although most people 

associate Merlin with King 
Arthur, Tolstoy doubts that the 
two ever met. "It's possible 
but unlikely. Arthur probably 
lived at the beginning ot 
Ihe sixth century, some sev- 
enty-five years before Merlin. 
I think the two became 
connected because Merlin is 
closely identified with the 
rituals that conveyed powers 
to a new king — like magical 
tests.and prophecies." 

What was the real Merlin 
like? Tolstoy, now writing 
a historical novel based on 
Merlin's lite, speculates 
that he was one of the last of 
the Druids, persecuted by 
the newly triumphant Chris- 
tians and banished to a 
pagan enclave in northern 
Britain. "I imagine him as wiry 
and muscular' Tolstoy says. 
"He lived in ihe forest with 
wild animals, and he was a 
powerful magician, but he 
was also a humorous, 
whimsical person— that 
description comes from the 
earliest traditions we have 
about him " 

While he believes Merlin 
existed as a flesh-and-blood 
man, Tolstoy also insists 
that the sorcerer is a symbol 
of mythic proportions. There 
are parallels between Merlin 
and the shamamstic cults 
of Siberia, Norse legends, 
and even the story of Christ," 
Tolstoy explains. "He is an 
archetypal, eternal figure that 
represents the unconscious, 
It's a feeling people have 
the moment they read about 
him; it doesn't need rational- 
ization."— Sherry Baker 

"The whole of life is but 
keeping away the thoughts of 
death " 

— Samuel Johnson 


CONf \:;.'=r. :=^ctv pagi. ■:; 

[he congressional staff so that we had as- 
surance that the inquiry would not expose 
our intelligence capabilities So the difficult 
aspect was the work ihaf went before the 
hearing, and that was often acrimonious. 

The appearance before the Pike Commit- 
tee occurred without much warning, and the 
preliminary process did not work well. But it 
turned out that it was not as damaging as it 
might have been because they were quite 
disorganized. The Church Committee was- 
far more thorough, and the hearings were 
carefully constructed so that they did not un- 
■ duly damage our intelligence capabilities. 
Omni: What about the recent exposures 
within [he intelligence community? 
Allen: One works hard to protect intelligence 
capabilities, knowing all along that the one 
thing that can undermine your work is a per- 
son who is a subordinate. Then to see cir- 
cumstances where espionage occurs is dis- 
couraging and alarming. 
Omni: Your managerial style at JPL has been 
compared to that of an ace poker player who 
holds his cards close to the vest. 
Allen: Well, people are kind enough to pre- 
sume that I have great hidden plans and 
wisdom that they can't see. It's a very flat- 
tering misunderstanding. But it's my philos- 
ophy that it's not necessary for me to make 
a sharp decision based on my own views. 
It's important that the decision be con- 
structed so that the organization is willing to 
implement it. Decisions made in private of- 
fices, which then fall upon an organization 
not prepared or motivated to implement 
them, are essentially futile. 
Omni: What is the special significance of the 
Uranus/Voyager mission? 
Allen: This is an encounter about which there 
is some, nervousness. The spacecraft has 
been going a long time, and it still has some 
problems, Since little is known about Ur- 
anus, though, it's very exciting. It's funda- 
mentally different from Jupiter and Saturn, 
and with Voyager we've got a chance to find 
out a whole new aspect of the solar system. 
We've no idea what Uranus's moons are like, 
and its ring's are only vaguely perceived. 
Omni: What problems were corrected? 
Allen: Both the onboard data processor and 
imaging system were rearranged from here 
on Earth. This has signficantly increased the 
amount o! data that can be transmitted back. 
That the spacecraft team was able to rewire 
the components of the onboard data-proc- 
essing equip'Tienl riu".ng the flyby between 
Saturn and Uranus, over a billion miles from 
Earth, is especially impressive. 

Voyager's observations have helped clar- 
ify the very strange behavior of Jupiter's 
moon lo and its volcanoes — behavior that 
we now realize is the result of tidal forces. 
And the Voyager mission has also initiated 
the use of the gravity assisl as a navigational 
technique. This ability to use the gravity of a 
planet — in this case Jupiter's — to manipu- 
late the course of a spacecraft is a powerful 

83 OMNI 

technique, and 'i/oyyc'e.' <; t ;pi : alizcd on it fully 
JPL developed rhe iecniology and has ex- 
ploited it recently in other missions. 
Omni: What steps wilt be taken as Voyager 
approaches Neptune in 1989? 
Allen: We'll increase the aperture of anten- 
nas of the deep space network rather sub- 
stantially. By using a combination of anten- 
nas, we'll ensure that we receive that very 
weak signal — only a len billionth of a watt. 

A crucial aspect ol tie design of Voyager 
and other JPL spacecraft is the complete 
control of the downlink data rate. We can 
continue to track Ihe spacecraft and receive 
data from it al almost arbitrary distances by 
constantly decreasing the data rate. This 
means you don't get back as much informa- 
tion as you'd like during encounter time. But 
as I said, we've compensated for that at Ura- 
nus by reprogramming the craft's internal 
computation techniques. But we won't be 
able to do that at Neptune, so the rate of 
information will be less than at Uranus. And 
we'll compensate for that by increasing the 


are interesting because, like 

comets, they 

' were formed very early in the 

evolution of 

the sotar system, and they 

haven't been 
altered much since then 3 

capability of the ground network. 
Omni: Do you have any nightmares about 
Voyager's encounter with Uranus 7 
Alien: No. I think it's marvelous we can do 
these things. JPL's here to execute a pro- 
gram of fundamental scientific value. Still, if 
it were purely the science return we were 
after, there might be other, cheaper ways to 
fund science. The real value must include its 
drama and excitement, which stimulate 
people and spark their imaginations. 

These spacecraH fire expensive, and re- 
cently there've been so few of them, there's 
an enormous incentive to be sure they work. 
So we made a decision to build craft using 
the most conservative engineering prac- 
tices possible. The next generation after 
Galileo are even more conservatively de- 
signed. That's fine, but there's a danger. Ob- 
viously, if JPL doesn't stay on the leading 
edge of spacecraft design, we couIdiaJI be- 
. hind. Yet I felt JPL must become more risky 
in the missions and conduct a more explor- 
atory technology in the laboratory. This will 
enable us to do dramatic things in the future. 
Omni: When will Galileo fly? 
Allen: In May. It's in the final correction stages 
and.preparation for reassembly. The craft it- 

self is substanLai.y Tore complex than Voy- 
ager, indeed, than any JPL has ever built. It 
will investigate Jupiter and ihe Jovian moons, 
sending a probe deep into Jupiter's atmos- 
phere to measure its constituents and char- 
acteristics. Second. Galileo goes into an or- 
bit so close to Jupiter that because of the 
hostile environment enveloping the planet, 
the craft's survival is in question. Following 
that very close encounter with Jupiter, it will 
begin a complex orbit, v sting the. Jovian 
moons with close encounters. It will make 
detailed measurements of this fascinating 
complement of four moons, extending Voy- 
agers investga'ior Ihal inchested Jupiter is 
really a remarkao c m nia:i_.re solar system. 
It will take about eighteen months for Galileo 
to get to Jupiter, with the flyby of the asteroid 
Amphitrite on the way out. 

There are several types of asteroids — 
those rich in silicate and metals, as in Am- 
phitrite, and those carbon rich. We hope to 
fly by the latter type in the mid-Nineties, in 
the Comet Rendezvous mission. Asteroids, 
along with comets, are interesting because 
they are objects formed very early in the so- 
lar system's evolution, and they have not 
beer altered much since. 
Omni: What about the Ulysses project to 
study the sun? 

Allen: Like Galileo. Ulysses goes to Jupiter, 
using the planet's gravity to impel the craft 
over the pole of the sun. It'll be the first 
spacecraft ever to view the sun from a plane 
other than that of the ecliptic [Ihe plane of 
the earth's orbit around the sun]. We expect 
to derive important micmaticn about the sun, 
as well as solar-terrestrial interactions, from 
this new vantage point. The flight uses Ju- 
piter to change the course from the earth to 
a new course tnat rakes :hc spacecraft over 
the top of the sun. From Earth, the energy 
required to put that velocity on the space- 
craft in the direction toward the sun is pro- 
hibitive. We exploit Jupiter's gravity field to 
get an acceleration that shifts the course from 
going out to Jupiter to going over and in to- 
ward the sun. 

Omni: 1986 is going to be a busy year. 
Allen: Very much so. We'll see the Voyager 
encounter, the Ulysses and Galileo mis- 
sions, and the Halley Watch, including the 
spacecraft flights — Grotto and Vega and the 
two Japanese ships. [Giolto is the European 
Space Agency's ship: Vega, the Soviet 
Union's.] All pass by the comet at high ve- 
locities, so even though they'll be making 
close-in observations of a comet, they'll be 
severely limited by having only a few sec- 
onds to make their critical observations. The 
United States decided not to participate in 
this series of observations. We hope to con- 
duct the Comet Rendezvous mission with 
comet Tempel 2, allowing a sustained pe- 
riod of observafions in the Nineties, when 
the comet passes by the sun. 

Our plan, if approved, is to fly first by a 
type-R carbonaceous asteroid, and then to 
rendezvous with Tempel 2 as much in ad- 
vance of its perihelion passage as possible 
[perihelion is the point during orbit when an 
object is closest to the sun] and fly with it for 

three years. When the comet is quiescent, 
or cold, we can bring the craft in very close, 
putting a penetrator, or probe, into its nu- 
cleus. The craft would remain in close for- 
mation of the comet in its pristine slate for 
some time, measuring its density and sur- 
face composition. As the comet ap- 
proaches the sun, heals up, and the volatile 
ices evolve into gases and dust, the space- 
craft would sample this swirling mist, mov- 
ing away from it in the heat. We'd continue 
making observations all the way around the 
perihelion. As the comet cooled again, the 
craft would move back in and record the dif- 
ference before and after perihelion. By con- 
ducting a mission that capitalizes on what's 
learned by the Halley's encounter, the United 
States has an oppor- 
tunity to retain its 
leadership in this field. 
Omni: What's planned 
after Galileo? 
Allen: The Mars Ob- 
server, using the 
spacecraft Mariner 
Mark II, This is a sim- 
pler craft, using inher- 
ited hardware. Still, it's 
capable of sophisti- 
cated missions. It will 
contain a wide range 
of instruments to study 
the chemical compo- 
sition of Mars and the 
planet's climate. Al- 
though Mars has been 
explored in some de- 
tail by other missions, 
its evolutionary his- 
tory and present sta- 
tus of its more volatile 
constituents are still 
something of a mys- 
tery. Water is the key 
example: Clearly Mars 
has a history of sur- 
face water erosion, 
but one sees very lit- 
tle now. 

Omni: What role will 
the Venus Radar 
Mapper play? 
Allen: Two forms of 
observation have 
been made of the sur- 
face of Venus below its clouds. One is 
ground-based radar, utilizing the Arecibo 
radar in Puerto Rico. The other involves the 
altimeter aboard the Pioneer spacecraft 
around Venus, as well as observations of the 
deep-space network. These observations 
indicate that Venus has a substantially dif- 
ferent history than any of the other rocky 
planets. Venus is not like Mercury or Mars, 
and it's certainly unlike the earth. Now the 
two Soviet spacecraft that have recently 
mapped Venus augmented observations 
made by ground-based radars. Although the 
Soviet data ate only partially published, sci- 
entists well versed in Venus studies are con- 
vinced that the planet has tectonic activities, 
crustal folding, and the like. Yet data don't 

show the plate tectonic activity that domi- 
nates the earth's surface. By taking the res- 
olution of measurement down to a tiner level 
and by mapping the planet's entire surface, 
the Venus Mapper will unravel the secret of 
these characteristics. As we learn more 
about the planets we discover what a unique 
body the earth really is. The circumstances 
permitting life to evolve here were not even 
remotely approached in the evolutionary 
history of the other planets. 
Omni: How much of JPL's work is Depart- 
ment of Defense [DoD] related? 
Allen: Just before I came here, JPL decided 
to accept defense work up to about one third 
of the total work. Actually the amount of de- 
fense work has not increased nearly so 


Englishmen live imperturbably 
with their relentlessly wet 
weather. But they also in- 
vented the trench coat and 
the rolled umbrella. And 
get along just swimmingly. 
Unflappable Englishmen still dress for 
dinner in climates so sweltering that the idea 
seems self-punishing. But by savoring a tall, 
iced Beefeater 8 and tonic, they manage to 
keep their cool. 

The English, you see, believe in keeping 
a stiff upper lip in the face of adversity. But 
they're equally good at keeping adversity 
to a manageable level. Which probably 
explains why they invented the trench coat, 
the rolled umbrella, and the Beefeater Gin 
and tonic. 



The Crown Jewel of England. 1 " 

much, and our plans arc to keep it to around 
twenty percent. The largest Dot) project is 
a battlefield data-handling and display sys- 
tem, called the all source analysis system. 
Our job is to provide the interface for incom- 
ing intelligence information. It's a ground- 
based system of networks — computers with 
substantial memories and large work sta- 
tions at which military analysts will sit and 
manipulate data, making 'heir evaluations. 
Omni: Can you explain your interest in 
studying the earth as a system rather than 
in component form? 

Allen: For twenty-five years JPL has been 
studying planets on which, not counting the 
moon, we haven't. had the opportunity to 
make in situ measurements. So we've relied 

on remote sensing devices. As those tech- 
niques have matured, we've become con- 
vinced they are powerful ways for under- 
standing the totality of planetary activity. So 
why don't we observe the earth as a planet 7 
We've much to learn about the earth by 
stepping outside mo local observations and 
getting global ■measurements that take into 
account total effects such as those in play 
in the coupling going on between [he 
oceans, atmosphere arc and masses. Un- 
derstanding the earth in such a fashion may 
enable us to better evaluate the effects' of 
such man-made contaminants as carbon 
dioxide, which could have long-term effects 
on the habitabiiity of the planet. 
Omni: What projects do you envision JPL 
inaugurating in the 
years ahead? 
Allen: One of the most 
exciting of these fu- 
ture programs, called 
Cassini, is an investi- 
gation of Saturn's 
moon Titan. Its atmos- 
phere was too dense 
for the Voyagers to 
give us any clues 
about what lies be- 
neath. The Cassini 
mission, when ap- 
proved, would probe 
this atmosphere. Also, 
Titan's atmosphere is 
very rich in organic 
molecules, so we've 
concluded that it is 
very similar to what the 
earth's must have 
been at the earliest 
stages of its evolution. 
Omni: What pro- 
grams are being 
studied for the explo- 
ration of other solar 
systems? There have 
been forty to titty stars 
located by IRAS [the 
Infrared Astronomical 
Satellite] within ahun- 
dred light-year radius 
that have shown evi- 
dence of possible so- 
lar systems. 
Allen: The IRAS ob- 
servations were followed up by Richard Ter- 
rile, of JPL, and [University of Arizona's] Brad 
Smith, whose data suggested that the star 
Beta Pictorus, the first star really observed, 
has at least a protoplanetary system — and 
possibiy a planetary system! Since these 
Earth-based observations can be extended 
very far, we're trying to find ways, either on 
the shuttle or space station, to do substantial 
observations using their techniques. Terrile 
and Smith's methods allowed them to see 
dim objects that are close to bright objects. 
Suppose you are looking at the earth from 
a great distance in space. Because the sun 
is bright and the earth dim and you'd have 
to be viewing the two with a tiny angular sep- 
aration [the separation of two. objects in the 

sky], you'd have great difficulty in seeing the 
earth. Terrile and Smith's technique in- 
cluded a form of coronagraph, a mask 
placed in the image plane of the telescope 
to block out the light from the star. You can't 
do that perfectly because of aberrations in 
the telescope. So they developed a sophis- 
ticated technique that got rid of some aber- 
rations. With a specially designed mirror, they 
incorporated the most modern techniques 
of charged coupled devices. [CCDs are sets 
of silicon chips containing a field of 640,000 
sensors called pixels. Light strikes the pixels 
and is converted to electrical signals. Each 
pixel registers and stores electrons in pro- 
portion to the intensity of light at that point.] 
CCDs can subtract out a big signal and still 
find a small signal. By exploiting the high 
dynamic range of those sensors, they were 
able to get rid of the unwanted stray lighl 
from the star and see the residual low-am- 
plitude signals. This is really an extraordi 
nary achievement. By enhancing this tech- 
nique by a factor of ten, we should be able 
to resolve the image of a Jupiter-size planet 
in the vicinity of a faraway star — we're al 
ready close to having Earth-based tech- 
niques sufficient to see planets around 
nearby stars. And proposals are in the works 
for shuttle-borne telescopes specifically de- 
signed for these measurements. Within the 
next few years, we'll be able to make obser- 
vations of extrastellar systems, what Terrile 
calls circumstellar systems. We haven't be- 
gun to see the end of the discoveries. 

Omni: How close are we to sending a 
spacecraft to one of these systems? 
Allen: By any present techniques of propul- 
sion the length of such a mission would be 
extraordinarily long. A mission of a thousand 
years is rather daunting, but still not beyond 
the scope of human imagination. We are 
putting together ideas for an inner-stellar 
mission [beyond the planets but still techni- 
cally within the solar system]. But'thinking 
about the kinds of observations you can 
make, together with the propulsion systems 
available, you might as well think about going 
well beyond the solar system. 
Omni: Do you think a thousand-year mission 
should be pursued? 
Allen: Absolutely. I just don't know how to do 


Omni: What about extraterrestrial life? 
Allen: We've made observations ot protopla- 
netary systems. Soon we'll be observing 
other extrasolar systems. Soon we may be 
getting a better handle on this question of 
whether the evolutionary history of the stellar 
systems permits other Earth-like planets to 
exist. Is it such a remote circumstance that 
we'd not expect to see it unless we observe 
billions of stars? Or is it commonplace 
enough that by focusing on the few dozen 
stars within our observational capability, we 
might expect to see planets with character- 
istics similar to ours? I'm frankly not im- 
pressed with the reasoning that says there 
are billions of galaxies with billions of stars, 
and in each, uncountable numbers of 

"Of course it looks dangerous. That's what makes, it exciting. " 

planets. Especially if there's no opportunity 
to observe much of anything. We're doing 
SETI [Search lor Extraterrestrial Intelli- 
gence], but it has a small chance of observ- 
ing anything when one works out the statis- 
tics involved. One can question whether SETI 
is a scientilic endeavor or an exercise of 
imagination and faith. But a soundly based 
scientific exploration of other solar systems 
could lead to a better understanding of con- 
ditions conducive to the formation of life. 
Omni: Aren't various spacecraft in the proc- 
ess of leaving the solar system? 
Allen: These spacecraft are "leaving the so- 
lar system" by various definitions. Voyager 1 
is on an angle to the ecliptic, so it is, in a 
sense, leaving the solar system. Some will 
pass a boundary that has to do with the 
magnetic influence of the sun. Still, for ex- 
traordinarily long periods, none will get any- 
where near the distance of the Oort Cloud. 
That cloud, which is the source of comets, is 
marginally associated with the solar system, 
but is one hundred thousand astronomical 
units [AUs] out. [The distance from Earth to 
the sun equals one AU.] At the Oorl Cloud 
we're still a ways from getting beyond the 
gravitational influence of the sun. We have a 
plan for a mission that would permit us to go 
out about a thousand AUs. Since that mis- 
sion, which would take fifty years, is only one 
percent of the distance to where we think the 
Oort Cloud is, to go beyond the solar system 
is a challenging idea — to put it mildly. 
Omni: What kind of perspective would such 
a mission give us on the solar system? 
Allen: The main scientific objective of that 
particular mission is an improvement in 
measurements using the wider base for par- 
allax [the apparent change in position of an 
object when viewed from two different 
places]. We now observe the distance of 
stars by a parallax measured from the earth 
at opposite ends of its path around the sun — 
essentially a baseline of about two AUs. At 
one thousand AUs out, you can improve that. 
We also don't know what our solar system 
looks like from an outside perspective. Ob- 
servations of Beta Pictorus [fifty light-years 
away] raise some questions as to what the 
dust and other cometary-type materials are 
like viewed from outside. Certainly we know 
of phenomena such as zodiacal light 
[caused by sunlight reflected from a disc- 
shaped cloud with a mass of about thirty 
million tons] that are within our solar system. 
But we see these only vaguely as a compli- 
cation of astronomical observations. If we 
could get outside and look back on them. . . . 
Omni: Wouldn't it be spectacular if JPL 
launched the first outerstellar mission? 
Allen: It would be great fun, but my particu- 
lar ambitions are lar more modest. I would 
simply like to leave JPL a legacy of a very 
strong national laboratory, staffed by the very 
best people in space exploration, people 
extraordinarily competent in their techno- 
logical and scientific bases and uninhibited 
in their imaginations. 

Omni: But to launch a program like that would 
take a thousand years. 
Allen: That would be great. DO 

pushed through all (he way, what he sees is 
one or more of these objects growing larger, 
changing shape suddenly, shrinking, and 

"Sure." Pal said, tapping his sneakered toe. 
"It's easy. Like in that book you showed me." 

'And a sphere pushed through a plane 
would appear to the hapless Ratlander first 
as an invisible point (the two-dimensional 
surface touching the sphere, tangential), then 
as a circle. The circle would grow in size, 
then shrink back to a point and disappear 
again." He sketched the stick figures, look- 
ing in awe at the intrusion. 

"Got it," Pal said. "Can I play with the Tron- 
clavier now?" 

"In a moment. Be patient. So what would 
a tesseract look like, coming into our three- 
dimensional space? Remember the pro- 
gram, now — the pictures on the monitor." 

Pal looked up at the ceiling. "I don't know," 
he said, seeming bored. 

"Try to think," Tuthy urged him. 

"It would . . ." Pal held his hands out to 
shape an angular object. "It would look like 
one of those Egyptian things, but with three 
sides ... or like a box. It would look like a 
weird-shaped box, too, not square." 

"And if we turned the tesseract around?" 

The doorbell rang. Pal jumped off the* 
kitchen chair. "Is that my Mom?" 

"I don't think so," Lauren said. "More likely 
it's Hockrum." She went to the front door to 
answer. She returned with a small, pale man 
behind her. Tuthy stood and shook the man's 
hand. "Pal Tremont, this is Irving Hockrum." 
he introduced, waving his hand between 
them. Hockrum glanced at Pal and blinked 
a long, not-very-mammalian blink. 

"How's the work coming?" he asked Tuthy. 

"It's finished," Tuthy said. "It's upstairs. 
Looks like your savants are barking up the 
wrong logic tree." He retrieved a folder of 
papers and printouts and handed them to 

Hockrum leafed through the printouts. 

"I can't say this makes me happy," he said. 
"Still, I can't find fault. Looks like the work is 
up to your usual brilliant standards. I just wish 
you'd had it to us sooner. It would have saved 
me some grief — and the company quite a 
bit of money." 

"Sorry." Tuthy said nonchalantly. 

"Now I have an important bit of work for 
you. . . ." And Hockrum outlined another 
problem. Tuthy thought it over for several 
minutes and shook his head. 

"Most difficult, Irving. Pioneering work 
there. It would take at least a month to see if 
it's even feasible." 

"That's all I need to know for now— whether 
it's feasible. A lot's riding on this, Peter." 
Hockrum clasped his hands together in front 
of him. looking even more pale and worn 
than when be- had entered the kitchen. "You'll 
let me know soon?" 

"I'll get right on it," Tuthy said. 

"Protege 7 "' he askc-d oointng to Pal. There 
was a speculative expression on his face, 

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not quite a leer. 

"No, a friend. He's interested in music," 
Tuthy said. "Damned good aL Mozart, in lact." 

"I help willi his :ossoracts," Pal asserted. 

"Congratulations," Hockrum said. "I hope 
you don't interrupt Peter's work. Peter's work 
is important." 

Pal shook his head solemnly. "Good," 
Hockrum said, and Ihen left Ihe house to take 
the negative resirts back to ms company. 

Tuthy returned to his office. Pal in train. 
Lauren tried to work in the kitchen, sitting 
with fountain pen and pad of paper, but the 
words wouldn't come. Hockrum always wor- 
ried her. She climbed the stairs and stood in 
the doorway of the office. She often did that, 
her presence did not disturb iuthy, who could 
"work under all sorts of conditions. 

"Who was that man?" Pal was asking Tulhy. 

"I work for him." Tuthy said. "He's- em- 
ployed by a very big electronics firm. He 
loans me mosl ol the equipment I use here — 
the computers, the high-resolution monitors. 
He brings me problems and Ihen takes my 
solutions back to his bosses and claims he 
did the work." 

"That sounds stupid," Pal said. "What kind 
of problems?" 

"Codes, encryptions. Computer security. 
That was my expertise, once." 

"You mean, like fencerail, that sort of 
thing?" Pal asked, face brightening. "We 
learned some of that in school." 

"Much more complicated, I'm afraid," Tuthy 
said, grinning. "Did you ever hear o! the Ger- 
man 'Enigma,' or Ihe 'Ultra' project?" 

Pal shook his head. 

"I thought not. Don't worry about it. Let's 
try another figure on the screen now." He 
called up anolher routine on the four-space 
program and sat Pal before the screen. "So 
what would a hypersphere look like if it in- 
truded into our space?" 

Pal thought a moment. "Kind of weird." 
. "Not really. You've been watching the vis- 

"Oh, in our space. That's easy. It just looks 
like a balloon, blowing up from nothing and 
Ihen shrinking again. It's harder to see what 
a hypersphere looks like when it's real. Reft 
of us, I mean." 

"Reft?" Tuthy said. 

"Sure. Reft and light. Dup and owwen. 
Whatever the directions are called." 

Tuthy stared at the boy. Neither of them 
had noticed Lauren in the doorway. "The 
proper lerms are ana and kata," Tuthy said. 
"Whal does'it look like?" 

Pal gestured, mak. nq two wide swings with 
his arms. "It's like a ball, and it's like a horse- 
shoe, depending on how you look at it. Like 
a balloon stung by bees, I guess, but it's 
smooth all over, not lumpy." . 

Tuthy continued to stare, then asked qui- 
etly, "You actually see it?" 

"Sure," Pal said. "Isn't that what your pro- 
gram is supposed to do — make you see 
things like that?" 

Tuthy nodded, flabbergasted. 

"Can I play the Tronclavier now?" 

Lauren backed out of the doorway. She 
felt she had eavesdropped on something 

92 OMNI 

momentous but beyond her. Tuihy came 
downstairs an hour later, leaving Pal lo pick 
oul Telemann on the keyboard. He sat at the 
kitchen table with her. '"The program works," 
he said. "It doesn't work for me, but il works 
forhim. Heis a bloody natural." Tulhy seldom 
used .such language. I ■':: was clearly awed. 
"I've just been showing h rn reverse-shadow 
figures. There's a way to have at least a sen- 
sation of seeing something 'otated Through 
the fourth dimension. Those hollow masks 
they use at Disneyland . . . seem to reverse 
in and out, depending on the lighting? Cra- 
ter pictures from the moon — resemble hills 
instead of holes?- That's what Pal calls Ihe 
reversed images— hills and holes." 
'And what s special about them?" 
"Well, if you go along with the game and 
make the hollow faces seem to reverse and 
poke out al you. that is similar lo rotating them 
in the lourth dimension. The features seem 
to reverse left and right right eye becomes 
lefl eye, and so on. He caught on right away, 
and then he went off and played Haydn. He's 

the kitchen came a hideous 

crashing, then 
the sound of vacuum being 

followed by a low-frequency 

setting their teeth on edge*- 

gone through all my sheet music. The kid's 
a genius." 

"Musical, you mean?" 

He glanced directly at her and frowned. 
"Yes, I suppose he's 'cmarkabie at that, too. 
But spatial relations — coordinates and mo- 
tion in a higher dimension. ... Did you know 
that if you take a Ihrec-di'-nensional object 
and rotate it in the fourth dimension, it will 
come back with left-right reversed? There 
is no fixed lefl-righl in the fourth dimension. 
So if I were to take my hand — " He held up 
his right hand, "and lilt it .dup — or drop il 
owwen, it would come back like this?" He 
held his left hand over his right, balled the 
right up into a fist, and snuck it away behind 
his back. 

"I didn't know that," Lauren said. "What 
are dup and owwen?' 

"That's what Pal calls movement along the 
fourth dimension. Ana and kata to purists. 
- Like up and down to a Flatlander, who only 
comprehends let: and right, back and forth." 

She thought about the hands for a mo- 
ment. "I still can't see it," she said. 

"Neither can I," Tuthy admitted. "Our cir- 
cuits are just too hard-wired, I suppose." 

Pal had switched the Tronclavier toa ca- 

Ihedral organ and wah- guitar cornomat'on 
and was playing variations on Pergolesi, 

"Are you going lo keep work ng for Hock- 
rum?" Lauren asked. Tuthy didn't seem to 
hear her. 

"It's remarkable." he murmured. "The boy 
just walked in here..You brought him in by 
accident. Remarkable." 

"Do you think you can show me ihe direc- 
tion — point ft out to me?" Tuthy asked the 
boy three days later. 

"None oi my muscles move that way," he 
replied. "I can see it, in my head, but . . ." 

"Whal is it like, seeing it? That direction?" 

Pal squinted. "It's a lot bigger. Where we 
live is sort of stacked uo with other places. 
It. makes me feel lonely." 


"Because I'm stuc.< he-e. Nooody out there 
pays any attention to us." 

Tuthy.'s mouth worked. "I thought you were 
just intuiling those directions in your head. 
Are you telling me you're actually seeing out 

"Yeah. There's people out Ihere. too. Well, 
not people, exactly. But it isn't my eyes that 
see them. Eyes are like muscles— they can't 
point those ways. But the head-— the brain, 
I guess— can." 

"Bloody hell," Tuthy said. He blinked and 
recovered. "Excuse me. That's rude. Can you 
show me the people ... on Ihe screen?" 

"Shadows, like we were talking about," 

"Fine. Then draw the shadows for me." 

Pal sat down before the terminal, fingers 
pausing over the keys. "I can show you, but 
you have lo help me with something." 

"Help you with what?" 

"I'd like to play music for them — out there. 
So they'll notice us." 

"The people?" 

"Yeah, Theylook really weird. They stand 
onus, sort of. They have hooksin our world. 
But they're tall . . . high dup. They don't no- 
tice us because- we're so small, compared 
with them." 

"Lord. Pal. I haven't the slightest idea how 
we'd send music out to them. . . . I'm not even 
sure I believe they exist." 

"I'm not lying," Pal said, eyes narrowing. 
He turned his chair to face a "mouse" 
perched on a b ac'< ruled pad and used it to 
sketch shapes on Ihe monitor. "Remember, 
these are just shadows of whal they look like. 
Next I'll draw the dup and owwen lines to 
connect the shadows." 

The boy shaded the shapes to make them 
look solid, smiling at his trick but explaining 
it was necessary because the projection of 
a four-dimensional object in normal space 
was, of course, three dimensional. 

"They look like you take the plants in a 
garden and give them lots of arms and fin- 
gers . . . and it's kind of like seeing Ihings in 
an aquarium," Pal explained. 

After a time. Tuthy suspended his disbe- 
lief and stared in open-mouthed wonder at 
what the boy was re-creating on the monitor. 

sibilty JLdgrrert by today." he paced around 
!he living room before fading as heavily as 
his lignl fra^'-o permitted n:o a chair. 

"I have been distracted." Tuthy adrnitled. 

"By that boy?" 

"Yes, actually. Quite a talented fellow," 

"Listen, this is going lo mean a lot of trou- 
ble for me. I guaranteed the judgment would 
be made by today. It'll make me look bad." 
Hockrum screwed up his lace in frustration 
"What in hell are you doing with that boy?" 

"Teaching him, actually. Or rather, he's 
teaching me. Right now. we're building a four- 
dimensional cone, part of a speaker system. 
The cone is three dimensional- the material 
part — but Ihe magnetic field forms a fourth- 
dimensional extension." 

"Do you ever think haw il looks, Peter?" 

"It looks very strange on the monitor, I grant 
you — " 

"I'm talking about you and the boy." 

Tuthy's bright, interested expression fell 
slowly into long, deep-lined dismay. "I don'l 
know what you mean." 

"I know a lot about you, Peter. Where you 
come from, why you had to leave. ... If jusi 
doesn't look good." 

Tuthy's face flushed crimson. 

"Keep him away," Hockrum advised, 

Tuthy stood. "I want you out of this house,' 
he said quietly. "Our relationship is at an end." 

"I swear," Hockrum said, his voice low and 
calm, staring up at Tuthy from under his 
brows, "I'll tell the boy's parents. Do you think 
they'd want their kid hanging around an old — 
pardon the expression — queer? I'll tell them 
if you don't get the feasibility judgment made. 
I think you can do it by Ihe end of this week- 
two days. Don'l you?" 

"No, I don't think so." Tuthy said softly. 

"I know you're here illegally. There's no: re- 
cord of you entering the country. With the 
problems you had in England, you're cer- 
tainly not a desirable alien. I'll pass word to 
the INS. You'll be deported." 

"There isn't time to do the work," Tulhy said. 

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"Make time. Instead of 'educating' that kid." 
"Get out of here." 

"Two days, Peter." 

Over dinner, Tuthy explained to Lauren the 
exchange he had had with Hockrum. "He 
thinks I'm buggering Pal. Unspeakable bas- 
tard. I will never work for him again." 

"I'd better talk to a lawyer, then," Lauren 
said. "You're sure you can't make him . . . 
happy, stop all this trouble?" 

"I could solve his little problem for him in 
just a few hours. But I don't want to see him 
or speak to him again." 
. "He'll take your equipment away." 

Tuthy blinked and waved one hand 
through the air helplessly. "Then we'll just 
■ have to work fast, won't we? Ah, Lauren, you 
were a fool to bring me over here. You should 
have left me to rot." 

"They ignored everything you did for 
them," Lauren said bitterly. She stared 
through the kitchen window at the overcast 
sky and woods outside. "You saved their 
hides during the war, and then . . , they would 
have shut you up in prison." 

The cone lay on the table near the win- 
dow, bathed in morning sun, connected to 
both the minicomputer and the Tronclavier. 
Pal arranged the score he had composed 
on a music stand before the synthesizer. "It's 
like a Bach canon," he said, "but it'll play 
better for them. It has a kind of counterpoint 
or over-rhythm that I'll play on the dup part 

of the speaker." 

"Why are we doing this, Pal?" Tuthy asked 
as the boy sat down to the keyboard. 

"You don't belong here, really, do.you, Pe- 
ter?" Pal asked. Tuthy stared at him. 

"I mean, Miss Davies and you get along 
okay — but do you belong here, now?" 

"What makes you think I don't belong?" 

"I read some books in the school library. 
About the war and everything. I looked up 
Enigma and Ultra. I found a fellow named 
Peter Thornton. His picture looked like you 
but younger. The books made him seem like 
a hero." 

Tuthy smiled wanly. 

"But there was this note in one book. You 
disappeared in 1965. You were being pros- 
ecuted for something. They didn't even 
mention what it was you were being prose- 
cuted for." 

"I'm a homosexual," Tuthy said quietly. 

"Oh. So what?" 

"Lauren and I met in England, in 1964. 
They were going to put me in prison. Pal. We 
liked — love each other, so she smuggled me 
into the U.S. through Canada." 

"But you're a homosexual. They don't like 

"Not at all true, Pal. Lauren and I like each 
other very much. We could talk. She told me 
her dreams of being a writer, and I talked to 
her about mathematics and about the war. I 
nearly died during the war." 

"Why? Were you wounded?" 

-"Mo. I worked too hard. I burned myself 

out and had a ro'vcus orea^down. My lover 
... a man . . . kept me alive throughout the 
Forties. Things were bad in England after 
the war. But he died in 1963. His parents 
came in to settle the estate, and when I con- 
tested the settlement in court, I was ar- 
rested." The lines on his face deepened, and 
he closed his eyes for a long moment. "I 
sjppose i dor I -oaiy bstorg here." 

"I don't either. My folks don't care much. I 
don't have loo many friends. I wasn't even 
born here, and I don't know anything about 

"Play," Tuthy said, his face stony. "Let's see 
if hey 'II listen." 

"Oh, they'll listen," Pal said. "It's like the 
way they talk to each other." 

The boy ran his fingers over the keys on 
ihe Tronclavier. The cone, connected with [he 
keyboard through the minicomputer, vi- 
brated linnily. For an hour, Pal paged back 
and forth through his composition, repeat- 
ing passages and creating variations. Tuthy 
sat in a corner, chin in hand, listening to the 
mousy squeaks and squeals produced by 
the cone. How much more difficult to inter- 
pret a four-dimensional sound, he thought. 
Not even visual clues. Finally the boy 
stopped and wrung his hands, then 
stretched his arms. "They must have heard. 
We'll jusl have to wait and see." He switched 
the Tronclavier to automatic playback and 
pushed the chair away from the keyboard. 

Pal stayed until dusk, then reluctantly went 
home. Tuthy stood in the office until mid- 
nighf, listening to the tinny sounds issuing 
Irom the speaker cone. There was nothing 
more he could do. He ambled down the hali 
io his bedroom, shoulders slumped. 

All night long the Tronclavier played 
through its prep'ocrammc-ci selection of Pal's 
compositions. Tuthy lay in bed in his room. 
two doors down from Lauren's room, watch- 
ing a shaft of rroonl oh I si tie across the wall. 
How far would a four dimensional being have 
to travel to get here? 

How far have I come to get here? 

Without realizing he was asleep, he 
dreamed, and in his dream a wavering im- 
age of Pal appeared, gesturing with both 
arms as if swimming, eyes w.de. I'm okay, 
the boy said without moving his lips. Don't 
worry about me. . . .I'm okay. I've been back 
to Korea to see what it's tike. It's not bad, but 
I like it better here. . . . 

Tuthy awoke sweating. The moon had 
gone down, and the room was pifch-black. 
In the office, the hypercone continued its 
distant, mouse- squeak broadcast. 

Pal returned early in the morning, whis- 
tling disjointed selections from Mozart's 
Fourth Violin Concerto. Lauren opened the 
front door for him, and he ran upstairs to join 
Tuthy. Tuthy sat before the monitor, replaying 
Pal's sketch of fhe four-dimensional beings. 

'"Do you see them now?" he asked the boy. 

Pal nodded. "They're closer. They're inter- 
ested. Maybe we should get things ready, 
you know — be prepared," He squinted. "Did 
you ever think what a four-dimensional foot- 
print would look like?" 

Tuthy considered [his for a moment. "That 
would be most interesting," he said. "It would 
be solid." 

On the first floor, Lauren screamed. 

Pal and Tuthy almost tumbled over each 
oiher getting downstairs. Lauren stood in the 
living room with her arms crossed above her 
bosom, one hand clamped over her mouth. 
The first intrusion had taken out a section of 
the living-room floor and the east wall. 

"Really clumsy," Pal said. "One of them 
must have bumped it." 

'The music," Tuthy said 

"What in hell is going on?" Lauren quer- 
ied, her voice starting as a screech and 
ending as a roar. 

"You'd better turn the music off," Tuthy 

"Why?" Pal asked, face wreathed in E 
excited smile. 

"Maybe they don't like it." 

A bright, filmy blue blob rapidly expanded 
to a diameter of a yard beside Tuthy, wrig- 
gled, froze, then just as rapidly vanished. 

"That was like an elbow," Pal explained. 
"One of its arms. I think it's trying to find out 
where the music is coming from, I'll go up- 

"Turn it off!" Tuthy demanded. 

"I'll pfay something else." The boy ran up 
the stairs. From the kitchen came a hideous 
hollow crashing, then the sound of vacuum 
being filled — a reverse pop, ending in- a 
hiss — followed by a low-frequency vibration 
that set their teeth on edge. 

The vibration caused by a four-dimen- 
sional creature scraping across their three- 
dimensional "floor." Tuthy's hands shook with 

"Peter!" Lauren bellowed, all dignity gone. 
She unwrapped her arms and held clenched 
lists out as if she were ready to exercise or 
start boxing. 

"Pal's attracted visitors," Tuthy explained.- 

He turned toward the stairs The first four 
steps and a section of floor spun and van- 
ished. The rush of air nearly drew him down 
the hole. 

After regaining his balance, he kneeled to 
feel the precisely cut. concave edge. Below 
was the dark basement. 

"Pal!" Tuthy called out. "Turn it off!" 

"I'm playing something new for them," Pal 
shouted back. "1 think they like it." 

The phone rang. Tuthy was closest to the 
extension at the bottom of the stairs and ir 
stinctively reached out to answer. Hockrum 
was on the other end, screaming. 

"I can't talk now — " Tuthy said. Hockrum 
screamed again, loud enough for Lauren to 
hear. Tuthy abruptly hung up. "He's been 
fired, I gather," he said. "He seemed angry." 
He stalked back three paces and turned, 
then ran forward and leapt the gap-to the 
first intact step. "Can't talk," He stumbled and 
scrambled up the stairs, stopping on the 
landing. 'Jesus," he said, as if something had 
suddenly.occurred to him. 

"He'll call the government," Lauren 

Tuthy waved that off. "I knowwhat's hap- 
pening. They're knocking chunks out of 

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three-space, mto the fourth. The fourth di- 
mension. Like Pal says: clumsy brutes. They 
could kill us!" 

Sitting before the Tronclavier, Pal happily 
played a new melody. Tulhy approached and 
was abruptly blocked by a thick green col- 
umn, as solid as rack and with a similar tex- 
ture. It vibrated and described an arc in the 
air. A section ot the ceiling a yard wide was 
kicked out of three-space. Tuthy's hair lifted 
in the rush of wind. The column shrunk to a 
broomstick, and hairs sprouted all over it, 
writhing like snakes. 

Tuthy edged around the hairy broomstick 
and pulled the plug on the Tronclavier. A 
cage of zeppelin-shaped brown sausages 
encircled the computer, spun, elongated to 
reach Ihe ceiling, the floor, and the top of the 
monitor's table, and then pipped down to tiny 
strings and was gone. 

"They can't see too clearly here," Pal said, 
undisturbed that his concert was over. Lau- 
ren had climbed the outside stairs and stood 
behind Tuthy. "Gee, I'm sorry about the 

In one smooth, curling motion, the Tron- 
clavier and cone and all the wiring associ- 
ated with them were peeled away as if they 
had been stick-on labels hastily removed 
from a flat surface. 

"Gee." Pal said, his face suddenly regis- 
tering alarm. 

Then it was the boys turn. He was re- 
moved more slowly, with greater care. The 
last thing to vanish was his head, which hung 
suspended in the air for several seconds. 

"I think they fiked the music," he said with 
a grin. 

Head, grin and all. dropped away in a di- 
rection impossible for Tuthy or Lauren to fol- 
low. The room sucked air through the open 
door, then quietly sighed back to normal. 

Lauren stood her ground for several min- 
utes, while Tuthy wandered through what was 
. left of the office, passing his hand through 
mussed hair. 

"Perhaps he'll be back." Tuthy said. "I don't 
even know . . ." But he didn't finish. Could a 
three-dimensional boy survive in a four-di- 
mensional void, or whatever lay dup — or 

Tuthy did not object when Lauren took it 
upon herself to call the boy's foster parents 
and the police. When the police arrived, he 
endured the questions and accusations sto- 
ically, face immobile, and told them as much 
as he knew. He was not believed; nobody 
knew quite what to believe. Photographs 
were taken. 

It was only a matter of time, Lauren told 
him, until one or the other or both of them 
were arrested. "Then we'll make up a story," 
he said. "You'll tell them it was my fault." 

"I will not," Lauren said. "But where /she?" 

"I'm not positive." Tuthy said, "i think he's 
all right, however." 

"How do you know?" 

He told her about the dream. 

"But that was'before," she said. 

"Perfectly allowable in the fourth dimen- 
sion," he explained. He pointed vaguely up, 
then down, then shrugged. 

On the last day, Tuthy spent the early 

morning hours bundled in an overcoat and 
bathrobe in the draf:y cf : ce. playing his pro- 
gram again and again, trying to visualize ana 
and kata. He closed his eyes and squinted 
and twisted his head, intertwined his fingers 
and drew odd little graphs on the monitors, 
but it was no use. His brain was hard-wired. 

Over breakfast, he reiterated to Lauren that 
she must put all the blame on him: 

"Maybe it will all blow over," she said. "They 
have no case. No evidence . . . nothing." 

Alt blow over, he mused, passing his hand 
over his head and grinning ironically. How 
over, they'll never know. 

The doorbell rang. Tuthy went to answer 
it, and Lauren followed a few steps behind. 

Putting it all together later, she decided 
that subsequent oven is happened in the fol- 
lowing order; 

Tuthy opened the door. Three men in gray 
suits, one with a briefcase, stood on the 
porch. "Mr. Peter Tuthy?" the tallest asked. 

"Yes," Tuthy acknowledged. 

A chunk of the doorframe and wall above 
the door vanished with a roar and a hissing 
pop. The three men looked up at the gap. 
Ignoring what was impossible, the tallest man 
returned his attention to Tuthy and contin- 
ued, "Sir, it's our duty to take you into cus- 
tody. We have rformaUor that you are in this 
country illegally." 

"Oh?" Tuthy said. 

Beside him, an irregular, filmy blue blob 
grew to a length of four feet and hung in the 

air, vibrating. The three men backed away. 
In the middle of the blob. Pal's head 
emerged, and below that, his extended arm 
and hand Tuthy leaned forward ;o study this 
apparition. Pal's fingers waggled at him. 

"It's fun here," Pal said. "They're friendly." 

"I believe you," Tuthy said calmly 

"Mr. Tuthy," the tallest man valiantly per- 
sisted, though his voice was a squeak. 

"Won't you come with me?" Pal asked. 

Tuthy glanced back at Lauren. She gave 
him a small fraction of a nod, barely under- 
standing wha: sne was assenlng to, and he 
took Pal's hand. "Tell them it was all my fault, " 
he said again. 

From his feet to his head, Peter Tuthy was 
peeled out of this world. Air rushed in. Half 
of the brass lamp to one side of the door 
disappeared. The INS men returned to their 
car with damp pants and embarassed, 
deeply worried expressions, and without any 
further questions. They drove away, leaving 
Lauren to contemplate the quiet. 

She did not sleep for three nights, and 
when she did sleep, Tuthy and Pal visited 
her and put the question to her. 

Thank you, but I prefer it here, she replied. 

It's a lot of fun, the boy insisted. They like 

Lauren shook her head on the pillow and 
awoke. Not very far away, there was a whis- 
tling, tinny kind of sound, followed by a deep 
vibration. To her. it sounded like applause. 

She took a deep breath and got out of 
bed to retrieve her notebook.DO 


seventy-five-hundred redline. Ahead of us: 
a rocketing yellow image broad as a bill- 
board kepi its distance, and the heavy block 
letters careful children became unbear- 
ably lunny, and as Mac was chanting, "God- 
damn school bus," I started a refrain of "BIG 
spring, BIG spring." Finally I quit, unable to 
compete with the Indy-car scream punc- 
tuated by Mac's new line, "Goddamn big 
spring," about the time we passed the high- 
way patrol car. 

The smokeybear receded behind us so 
fast, I wondered if it had been my imagina- 
"tion. We were doing roughly two hundred 
and twenty miles an hour at the moment, 
touring the soft urceroelyol Pasadena with 
the shriek of nine hundred lost souls, and I 
shouted, 'Aren't we gonna turn oft?" 

But Pat MacHinery was past reason, teeth 
bared demonically in the ugly handsome 
face, past redline on the Bella's tach. and I 
was cold sober, helplessly sharing this me- 
teorite with a full-fledged madman at four 
times the double nickel, and I had no ejec- 
tion seat. 

I did have prayer. I tried God, but His line 
was busy i flung entrealies to Mammon, Thor, 
Buddha, and Moroni to be on the safe side, 
and maybe Thor heard me because some- 
thing like a thunderbolt suddenly disinte- 
grated the clutch with a noise like J. Arthur 

Rank's gong struck by a chandelier. 

MacHinery pounded on his dash panel, 
sobbing, but had enough sense lo brake, 
snapping off all but his normal driving lights 
as the Bella coasted to a stop. By this time 
Ihe bus was long, long gone, 

I took my first breath in quile some time 
and asked Mac if he was okay. He just sal 
there trembling, not answering, and he gig- 
gled a little, and then he cried a lot; Sweep- 
ing toward us in the sky was a spotlight; fuzz 
on the prowl for funny little cars. "What 'I I we 
tell the highway patrol?" I quavered. 

His glance held a pathetic hope. "Big 
spring," he explained. 

"Ah. Well. Uh, you tell 'em that, Mac. I think 
I'll take me a little stroll. I, um. wasn't here. 
was I?" 

"Big spring," he assured me. "Bi-i-ig, BIG 

"The biggest," I agreed, oozing out of the 
Bella. I don't know r anyone saw me scurry 
across the freeway in the distant lights of four 
palrol cruisers, but my luck held all the way 
to a distant phone booth. Would you believe 
Sam was with Hernando, celebrating? 

Sam picked me up. sober as an accoun- 
lant, waving an extra pink slip as"! climbed 
into the bus. On the way back to Springville 
before dawn he made me tell about my ride 
first, injecting bs basso chuckle now and 
then. Finally I leaned forward and begged 
- him to tell me how he'd juiced up the spring. 

"I didn't, of course. If I could, there'd be a 
windup key on every shuttle booster." 

"I saw youl As soon as Mac flicked on 
those halogens past the li'S: herd, there you 
were and there you stayed. How?" 

"Laser hologram," Sam smirked. "I made , 
video recordings Irom behind wilh Ihe bus 
on my big turntable, and rebuilt some halo- 
gen lights to throw_a three-dimensional im- 
age ahead when I transmitted a signal. 
Transmitter had i.norlia sensors, so when you 
turned, the bus i~ago got sideways. Made 
it believable." 

I developed instant palsy. "You mean if 
Mac had gone off a cliff, we'd have seen you 
just ahead of us all the way down?" 

"Not you; you'd have your eyes closed." 

"But — the big spring?" 

"Perfectly legit," he said. "I laid down a 
dragster's screen lo the first turn, broad- 
sided out of it beiwoon serif; garages, and 
let you two go. I knew Mac'd flick those long- 
beams on when he didn't see me." 

"So why didn't he see :hat rnage the first 
time he tried his new lights?" 

"Because the transmitter was in Spring- 
ville, booby," Sam replied. "But you carried 
it in the Bella." 

I fished the little box from my pocket. "This? 
You sa d it was a good-luck charm." 

"I also said once that you were possessed 
of modest intelligence. Who'd believe me 
after that?" 

So Sam had suckered us all from the first. 
"He'll never even know how you cheated 
him," I said. 

"I never." 

"Sure you did. We passed you within fifty 
yards, Sam." 

"Like hell. You went off in another direction 
instead of following me. I, um, may have 
casually suggested to Mac that he proceed 
■on a given route — but the bet was for him to 
pass me. And that he emphatically did not 
do." I nodded — off to sleep. 

One of the major dailies tried to make Pat 
MacHinery's fate into a mystery, but it didn't 
play long. Basically, all they had was one 
autistic adult answering to the name of 
Bigspring. found near-calatonic on the free- 
way with an unregistered Sella T-900 at three 
o'clock in the morning. The Bella might run 
again, if the owner was foolhardy enough to 
come to the cop shop and claim it. But Mr. 
Bigspring, the article claimed, had lost his 
personal tie-rods and was under observa- 
tion in a small room with eiderdown walls 
and gum-ball rubber floor. 

I showed the article to Sam, who said we'd 
all been irresponsible and that none of it 
would've happened if it weren't for — for clods 
who worship the wrong heroes. (I know, that's 
silly, but that's what he said.) The more he 
thought about it, the madder he got at him- 
self, but it was me who got ushered out of 
Ihe hangar at the business end of a broom 
that day. I couldn't go without settling one 
nagging question. While sprinting, I called, 
"Sam, you've got to tell me: What'll you do 
with that Bella pink slip?" 

"Frame it." he shouted back. "Hell, I've built 
better stuff than the Bella. And I will again!" 

He would indeed. . . .DO 


MARSCAPEi This rocky , 
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is coated with thin ice. 
There is enough water on 
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million people. 

**f^ The Mars Colony Needs 
a Few Good Men — and Women 

Todays first graders will graduate from college in the 21st century. Will they 
be ready to pioneer the solar system, or to settle oh Mars? Not if, we don't 
start training them AT ONCE! •» . I 

The Young Astronaut Program is helpingourschoqls4lp'iomrminifief 
•the crisis in science and math teaching The fiog B S m till pre 
the greatest adventure mankind has ever undertaken: the 
universe! •' " «•>■ 

Tomorrow's Columbuses and Magellans need yoi 
b -> start them on their way to the stars by encouraging youngsters to enlist in 

Young Astronauts. Better, yoifcan help form a Young Astronaut chaph 
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might help tutor the Young Astronauts. 
Perhaps the children you help won't go to Mars after all. But all 
of them will have to live in tomorrow's high-tech world. Unless 
we do something about it, an appalling 90 percent won 't be able to cope. They 
are graduating from high school today woefully illiterate in science and 
technology.They won't be able to operate the computers, robots and lasers 
that will be standard equipment in just a few years. 
The problem is urgent! Encourage youngsters to sign up in the Young 
Astronaut Program. Or send for more information yourself. Please write: 


P.O. Box 65432 • Washington, D.C. 20036 


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In this portrait of pai 

by the Smithsonian Institution's Kjell B. 

pattern reveals the peregrinations ot a 
Chrysomelid beetle larva, which ate its 
to maturity inside the abundant and well- 
protected food supply of a hapless leaf's 

egg on the leaf's surface, the larva hatched 
and burrowed beneath the I' 
The insect's careful minir 



their c 

eventually metamorphose — either i 

m 513 Mill' i 

i (he banks of the 
Amazon to take this picture on Kodachi^...- 
64 film, using a Nikon camera fitted with 

' — itwas special 


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thinks t have a chance to be as good as 
Monica was if I just practice. 

Therapisls who treat multiples often find 
themselves in dialogue with different 
voices — some male, some female, some 
childlike — eerie as the alien voices emanat- 
ing from a medium at a seance. In 1983 neu- 
rologist Christie Ludlow, of the National In- 
stitute of Neurological and Communicative 
Disorders and Stroke (NINCDS), tested this 
phenomenon by making high-tech "voice- 
prints" of some of Putnam's patients. Using 
a computerized technique called spectral 
analysis, which essentially sorts out the dif- 
ferent frequencies composing a single 
sound, Ludlow confirmed that the subvoices 
were indeed distinct. 

One multiple has three menstrual periods 
every month, one for each of her identities. 
Others require different prescription glasses 
for their alter egos. A multiple can harbor 
one identity that knows how to drive and an- 
other that doesn't: one that speaks a foreign 
language fluenly and another with a tin ear. 
Chicago psychiatrist Bennett Braun studied 
a man who was allergic to citrus drinks in all 
personalities but one. Putnam has met mul- 
tiples who are actually married to two differ- 
ent people. "I wouldn't be surprised," he 
adds, "if a certain percentage of people who 
lead double lives — spies, double agenis, 
bigamists — are actually multiples. Some 
mediums and victims of 'demonic posses- 
sion' probably are, too." The repertoire of a 
multiple includes dramatic shifts in facial 
expression, accent, vocabulary, body lan- 
guage, clothing and hairstyles, handwriting, 
phobias, and — above all — memories. 

For twenty-eight years of my iife i was am- 
nesic. When I was younger I didrit notice it; 
I just thought everyone had these moments. 
Later, as things got mote traumatic., there was 
more and more time I would miss. I just 
thought t was crazy. 

Mary the one who was 'me' the majority 
of the time, didn't know about the other per- 
sonalities. Monica knew about Mary but not 
about George. She was amnesic when 
George came out. George knew everything. 
He is the one they call the link, or the bridge, 
the one who has all the memories. 

So there were all these things that hap- 
pened, but to an observer it just looked like 
I was acting strange some of the time. My 
mother never believed that I tried to commit 
suicide because she said I called for help, 
that I was just doing it to get attention. The 
point is, Mary would try to commit suicide 
and Monica would call for help. But an out- 
sider would just see that this person took a 
bunch of pills and then called for help. 

With a battery of sophisiicated tests, Put- 
nam and MIMH psychologist Herbert Wein- 
gartner determined that multiples' memory 
circuits are well compartmentalized. Per- 

sonally X may rememoer rotning that hap- 
pens to Y while Z is consis:ently aware of Y 
but not of X, and so on. Braun believes that 
MPD may be an extreme case of state-de- 
pendent learning: information encoded dur- 
ing a given psycnopnysiolca ca. state is best 
retrieved in the same state. (In other words, 
if you misplaced your wallet while drunk, a 
couple of pina coiadas may be the best route 
to finding it.) 

What causes a personality to split in the 
first place? The clear and chilling answer is 
child abuse: 85 to 90 percent of MPD pa- 
tients were beaten, cut, burned, half- 
drowned in bathtubs, locked in closets, hung 
out of windows, and/or sexually assaulted 
as children (generally before the age often), 
and their early histories are sagas of criti- 
cism, betrayal, abandonment, and inconsis- 
tency "It is a coping mechanism," says Put- 
nam. "The child compartmentalizes his or 
her pain so as not to have to deal with it all 
the time. A form of self-hypnosis is probably 
involved. The child goes into trances, and 
that trance-state consciousness grows more 
and more autonomous and differentiated." 

When I was six, the Topper series was on 
TV. and I was madly in love with George 
Kirby — the ghost who always helped to get 
Topper either into or out of trouble— who 
mostly helped him against the bad guys. I 
used to think, "Gee, I wish I had a George 
who could protect me against my step- 
father. " And then the night I was raped, bingo, 
there was George. He pulled me away from 
my stepfather. Then Mary was born a few 
instants after. She was like the temporary host 
of the body. I never actually knew her be- 
cause I went to sleep, and when I woke up, 
Mary had taken over. 

Monica, who was born when I was three, 
disappeared when I was six and stayed gone 
until I was fourteen, when she came back to 
help out. Monica was the domestic one, the 
cheerful, happy one. She was the one 
everyone liked best. 

Unfortunately, it isn't very easy to put 
Humpty-Dumpty together again. MPD is not 
cured in a day. "I don't believe there are any 
medications that work," says Putnam. Inte- 
gration, as the hos ng O'occss is called, can 
take years. Therapy takes the form of an in- 
trapsychic encounter group in which the 
various buried identities are coaxed into the 
open, sometimes through hypnosis. "The first 
step in treatment," Putnam explains, "is to 
get the personalities to meet one another." 

As for Marion, six different personalities 
took their turns upon the stage of her life for 
30 years. Despite her potpourri of nick- 
names (three of her personality monikers 
appear under her picture in the high-school 
yearbook), her three-part harmony in the 
chorus, her often bafvirc behavior, her own 
family didn't notice her psychic multiplicity. 
Like many multiples, she was (and is) intel- 
ligent and talented, an accomplished singer, 
artist, and writer. Bui depressions, mental 
breakdowns, suicide attempts, and confu- 
sion inevitably aborted all her career plans. 

Not until 1979. after her sobering morning 
after in the motel room with "Monica's" date, 
did she learn she was a multiple personality. 
With a therapist, she began the slow, painful 
process of reconnecting her scatlered 
selves, establishing lines of communication 
between them. Mary, the acting "host," 
learned of George and Monica; Monica be- 
gan to leave notes for Mary ("Oh, by the way 
I made an appointment for you. . ."); the per- 
sonalities heard one another's voices and 
traded memories. On Halloween, 1982, in- 
tegration occurred, and all her "personal 
spirits" coalesced into a whole person. With 
her husband, a self-taught, amateur thera- 
pist (who "fell in love with all of us" and mar- 
ried them/her in 1982) acting as hypnotist 
and guide, the real Marion returned after her 
long, Rip van Winkle-like sieep. She now as- 
sists with the reintegration of other multiples 
and is working toward a career as a thera- 
pist for abused children, This is her story: 

There were six personalities in all, Mary, 
Monica, George, Daphne, Ginny, and me. 
There was also a fractional personality, 
Nancy, but she never really developed into 
anything. She was a reaction So a car acci- 
dent, and then she was integrated, so we 
don't really count her 

Each personality was born from a crisis; 
it's an elaborate defense mechanism. You're 
in a situation you can't handle and you hyp- 
notize yourself into being someone else who 
can. When I was raped at the age of six, 
George came in and saved me. Mary, the 
host personality who appeared alter the real 
sell, Marion, went to sleep, was also born 
then. She was not a happy person. She 
gained weight as a defense against men. At 
one point she allowed the body to reach a 
peak of three hundred ten pounds. 

Monica, "our little homemaker," was cre- 
ated when I was three, when my stepfather 
started molesting me. She was the one who 
fell in love with Eddie, my ex-husband, and 
married him. Later she had a brief affair with 
a guy who reminded her of Eddie, and she 
went home 'and tried to kill herself. 

Daphne came out in '81. She was sexual 
revenge, feminine anger Men had treated 
me very badly, and then when I lost weight 
and men started paying attention to me, 
Daphne wasthere to get even. She was this 
seductive eighteen-year-old siren. She was 
the one my current husband fell in love with. 

A major trauma happened in late '81 that 
caused me' to feel very abandoned, and 
Ginny was born. She was six years old and 
an orphan. She actually started out as an 
infant, and my George personality adopted 
her and raised her to the age of six. 

Once I was in a car accident and had se- 
vere internal injuries, and a fractional per- 
sonality, Nancy, was born from that. All she'd 
do is lay there in internal pain. The problem 
was, though, she wanted to die. My doctor 
thought it wouldn't be a good idea to inte- 
grate her with all- that pain, so she healed 
Nancy and then integrated her. 

I'm unlike a lot of multiples in that- 1 don't 
have a whole slew of people. I knew a girl 

who had nineteen personalities, and I sat 
down with a piece of paper and worked out 
all their attributes. . . . When I got married, 
there were three other multiples there who 
were all patients of my doctor. So we had a 
picture taken and we called it the multiple 
exposure. Between all of us, we figured out, 
there were forty-two people in that picture. 

One psychiatrist told me that anyone who 
believed in multiples was deranged. Many 
of us have had people try to exorcise us. My 
mother tried to bring in a priesf once. 

Before I was recognized as a multiple I 
was classified as a schizophrenic and, an- 
other time, as a manic-depressive. They tried 
lithium on me, and it did absolutely nothing. 
You see, what they were seeing was first 
Monica, then Mary, then George — and so, 
you know, elation, depression, then anger, in 
rapid succession. In 77 / had a major break- 
down. I was in the hospital almost more than 
I was out of it, first as a voluntary patient, and 
then I was committed. A state institution is a 
sheer hellhole. I didn't know what was going 
on; I didn't find out till two years later. 

In 19 1 woke up. I was sitting there in this 
office with this doctor who looked familiar to 
me. I thought some little kid had come in, 
because that's what it sounded like, a kid 
whispering. Itv.'as Monica whispering to me. 
I just started slowly and finally got to the point 
where I could carry on conversations with 
-her. We discovered George soon after. 

My husband and I started working to- 
gether in September [1982]. I couldn't af- 
ford a therapist, and he said he was willing 
to be my lay therapist. We used ail the ma- 
terial I already had, all the experiences I'd 
gained from my therapists. We had charts 
of all the major incidents in my lite, all the 
major memories that had to be dealt with. 

On Halloween I integrated. We took the 
personalities in reverse order, integrating 
Ginny first and working back to Monica. We 
did it with hypnosis because we figured it 
would be easiest Some people integrate in 
their sleep. I know of one girt who went to 
sleep and woke up the next morning inte- 
grated. There's no tried-and-true way. We 
taped it, but I don't remember much of it. I 
embraced each of them, and when I em- 
braced them they became one with me. 

When I got to George, I just broke down 
and cried. He'd been there for me so many 
times. But I realized later I didn't give him 
up. He's still a part of me. 

One night my girlfriend Lynn and I were in 
the car. It was shortly after integration. I hadn't 
seen any sign of the others [personalities] 
yet, but when you first integrate you aren't 
sure whether it's really happened. You won't 
know till there's a real crisis. So I was in the 
car with Lynn, singing to a song on the radio. 
She said something, and I got angry with 
her. All of a sudden, she heard my voice drop 
. and she looked over George always wore 
his glasses down on the end of his nose. 
And she looked over and there were the 
glasses hanging down on the end of the 
nose. So at first she thought it was George 
yelling at her. But then she saw it was me; 
she-could tell I hadn't left. 



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Lynn always knew when George was in 
the room. She wouldn't even have to took up; 
she could sense it. She'd just say, "Hi, 
George. " See, Lynn was George's lover, and 
that's something that does happen quite 
often with multiples. George defined himself 
as a man, therefore he had an interest in 
women. That's why they were so close. Lynn 
had a really hard time giving up George. 

Anyway, after that incident in the car, I 
looked at her and said, "That was me. I got 
angry." I had never gotten angry before. 
When I got angry I'd let go and George would 
take over. That wasn't my role. 

'George was about anger. And destruc- 
tion, protection, firmness. He had many sides. 
Once he grew up to age fourteen, he stayed 
fourteen for a number of years. It's a volatile 
age. It's more acceptable for a fourteen-year- 
old to have temper tantrums. So he stayed 
fourteen till he was discovered and my ther- 
apist aged him hypnotically. 

There is a humorous side to being a mul- 
tiple. My Daphne personality liked to go out 
partying and dancing with Lynn. One night 
Daphne started drinking and dancing, for- 
getting that I had just taken some pretty po- 
tent medication. Halfway through the wine, 
it hit her hard, and Lynn had to drive her 
home. Daphne happened to comment that 
Ginny — my little one — was drunk, on the In- 
side. (At this point I was close to fusing and 
there was a great deal of cooperation be- 
tween personalities.) Lynn couldn't resist and 
asked to see the six-year-old. 

Ginny came out, glassy eyed and feeling 
silly. She was curled up in the stuffed chair 
staring around in a way that suggested, the 
room was moving around her She focused 
on the shelf where she kept her four stuffed 
animals. She looked amazed and said, "i got 
three teddy bears, and three Katrlna Kitty 
Kats, and three Tommy Tommy tomcats, and 
three Pokey turtles. . . .1 got more animals 
than I thought I got." 

Since I am integrated now, I have alt the 
memories. My husband and I had to go over 
them several times to neutralize them. He 
would give me what we call a volume control 
on the pain, and I could observe the scene 
with no commitment and then turn up the 
volume and get closer and closer, until I 
could accept the whole thing. 

I think my stepfather may have been a 
multiple himself. He has a lot of different 
names. He was severely abused as a child. 
And there were times when his personality 
would just switch. He'd be beating me and 
then, boom, he'd just stop and walk away as 
if nothing had happened. He also had this 
religious side, and I've never known a mul- 
tiple without a religious, almost fanatical side. 
My Mary personality was obsessed with 
things; she was obsessed with religion fore 
white. Another thing is migraines. Mary had 
migraines all the time. 

This summer I may try to see my step- 
father, whom I haven't seen in years. I am 
thinking of going back to visit the house 
where I grew up, where ail this happened. 
See, logically, I know that that house is a nice 
little house on a nice little street in a normal 

106 OMNI 

city. But in my mind it's the Amityville horror. 
I've got to go back to put it in perspective. 

It's hard being Integrated. There are so 
many situations when you wish some of them 
were around to take care of it. You're totally 
responsible for all your actions now. 

A doctor I once worked with said that in a 
sense we are alt multiples. To his seven-year- 
old he's "Daddy"; to someone else, he's 
"Doctor. " It's just that with a multiple the roles 
are a little more for keeps. 

A few months after this conversation, we 
got another letter from Marion, which read, 
in part: "To be perfectly honest, I have re- 
split, but we don't think it is a serious situa- 
tion. There were stressful circumstances in- 
volved with the possibility of seeing my 
stepfather again. That on top of an over- 
loaded work schedule and doing volunteer 
work, too ... I just blew a fuse. We feel (my 
doctor and I) that as soon as I can calm 
down, put my stepfather out of my mind, and 
rest from Ihe overload, I should be able to 
reintegrate George and the new young per- 
sonality named Anna (aged fifteen). They 
seldom come out, and when they do, it star- 
tles my husband. After all, I had been inte- 
grated for sixteen months. But I think I can 
reintegrate soon. . . . It's time that people 
understood that this illness is a reality not 
just a figment of someone's imagination." 

Given the often astonishing gifts of their 
satellite personae— like the ability to con- 
verse in fluent Russian or to perform Hou- 
dini-like escape feats — multiple personali- 
ties make a strange showcase for the 
untapped potentials inside every brain. Mul- 
tiple personalities are not Ireaks; Ihey are like 
you and me — only more so. Or so some 
psychiatrists maintain. As Marion wrote us 
in one letter, "I am all in favor of educating 
the public and letting them know that we 
multiples are really ordinary people with a 
bit of an odd illness, but we live and survive. 
That's what it's all about, a unique and won- 
derlul defense mechanism that not every- 
one can have." 

But maybe everyone does have this 
mechanism.. Maybe you, too, harbor closet 
selves in various degrees of evolution: an 
intellectual, a Don Juan, a bon vivant, an as- 
cetic, a hero, a melancholiac, a housewife, a 
revolutionary, a hysteric, a lonely child, a 
Machiavellian power broker, an artist. Per- 
haps mental unity is a matter of repressing 
the alternate'- selves smuggling to be born. 
And consider the dream self, your nocturnal 
alter ego: Is that you? What about your pack 
of previous selves, from four-year-old, bed- 
wetting Stevie to teenage Steve with the 
ducktail haircut? "You" disappear in anes- 
thesia, deep sleep, coma, and certain twi- 
light states. Where's the self? 

So far no electroencephalogram, no pos- 
■ itron emission tomography scan has pin- 
pointed the neuron, or network of neurons, 
that encodes the "I." Obviously, the self is a 
global property of the brain — if, that is, it is 
"in" our gray matter at all. Even in this age of 
neurotechnological miracles, selfhood re- 
mains a deep mystery.DO 



fence and the monument marking Ground 
Zero, a visitor could walk across the undu- 
lating expanse of desert and not know any- 
thing unusual had happened there. The only 
trace of the historic 20-kiloton explosion is a 
depression in the ground, a mere dimple 
some 11 feet deep, 

Roddy explains that the Canyon Diablo 
meteor (named after a small canyon near 
the site) was about 100 feet across. That is 
small for an asteroid Although it is the larg- 
est in the United States, Meteor Crater is not 
a world-class crater. 

Remnants of far larger ones exist on Earth: 
the Rieskessel structure in Germany, which 
is about 14 miles across; Lake Manicoua- 
gan, in Ontario, a sizable 44 miles from edge 
io edge; and Ihe world's largest known im- 
pact crater, Vredefort Dome, in South Africa, 
with a diameter of 87 miles. 

The Diablo Canyon meteor smashed into 
the plain 50.000 years ago, long before the 
Indians made their mark on the land. "If you 
had been here the day it happened," Roddy 
says sitting down on a rock, "you would have 
seen — probably in the east — something that 
looked like a slar in the early evening. In the 
space of a few seconds that point of light 
would have grown brighter until, about three 
seconds before impact, it would have had 
about the intensity of the sun." 

Thai incoming body, an asteroid on a col- 
lision course with Earth, would have been 
traveling at about 15 kilometers per sec- 
ond — about 33,500 miles per hour. Both of 
us are looking up into the blue, trying to pic- 
ture it coming. 

"If you could have slowed down the mo- 
tion," Roddy continues, "you would have 
seen an enormous bow wave in front and a 
large shock wave at Ihe end, the same as 
you see on a reentry vehicle or with bullets 
photographed in mid-flight." It all was hap- 
pening in total silence. In those seconds the 
meteor was traveling faster than sound. 

'A fraction of a second later," Roddy con- 
tinues, "the thing was just above the earth's 
surface. If you looked at it you would have 
Deen blinded by the light. 

"Then, at time zero, its leading edge would 
have touched Ihe ground." In that instant the 
meteor would have pushed an enormous 
shock wave, with a force millions of times 
normal atmospheric pressure, into the 
earth. The temperature at the point of im- 
pact would have been so high — some 6000" 
C — that rock liquefied. 

"One second into contact the meteorite 
was no longer a coherent body," Roddy says. 
"It had fragmented, melted, and vaporized. 
Liquid rock sprayed out in a giant, cone- 
shaped plume, and the crater walls were 
pushed back with an unbelievable force." 

The asteroid blew some 175 million tons 
of rock out of the earth and senl a mush- 
room cloud of hot gases lofting into ihe sky. 
It struck with the force of 20 million tons of 
TNT, 1,000 times as great as the Trinity site 

bomb and the equivalent of some of today's 
largest warheads. 

We decide to view the point of impact. 

At the visitor center — the place is a pop- 
ular tourist attraction— I sign a release say- 
ing I won't hold them responsible if I kill my- 
self on the way down, then Roddy and I follow 
an old mule trail to the crater floor. The trip 
takes about 20 minutes. 

Dodging lizards and scrambling over 
boulders, we make it to the bottom. (Before 
the Apollo n landing, NASA used to send 
the Apollo crews down to Meteor Crater on 
trial runs.) Down here the full implications of 
an asteroid impact with Earth become clear. 
All around us is rock and rubble. Stonewalls 
soar hundreds of feet toward the sky, Cloud 
shadows slide lazily down one wall, drift 
slowly across the crater floor, and float up 
and out the opposite side. This is a Grand 
Canyon in the round, shoveled out by an as- 
teroid in a matter of pulse beats. 

The meteor that carved out this hole was 
the remains of an asteroid that survived en- 
try through Earth's atmosphere. Meteors 
come from one of two sources: wayward 
comets or asteroids. Both, say astonomers, 
are probably remnants of the solar system's 
creation, leftovers from the innumerable small 
bodies that accumulated to form the planets. 
The two types of interplanetary debris differ 
mainly in their size, composition, and the 
distance of their orbits from the sun. 

A comet is roughly equal mixtures of ice 
and rock, and orbits around the outer edges 
of the solar system far beyond Pluto. Most 
comets are small, with diameters ranging 
between a half mile and a mile and a half in 
diameter. (Halley's Comet is three to four 
miles wide.) By contrast, an asteroid con- 
sists of solid rock and usually is a creature 
of the inner solar system, residing mainly in 
the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars 
and Jupiter. Although the Greek root word 
of asteroid means "starlike," the etymology 
is misleading. An asteroid in space shines 
only by reflected sunlight. Planetoid might 
be a better descriptor. But whatever the 
name, asteroids form a motley collection of 
tiny, cold, and airless worlds that wander 
around the sun. They differ in size, bright- 
ness, and color and come in all shapes. 
There are "spherical, egg-shaped, and ob- 
long asteroids. Some travel alone; others are 
grouped in pairs or families; a tew are even 
thought to have their own satellites. Some 
rotate, just like full-fledged planets, with pe- 
riods — "days" — that vary from three hours 
to several Earth days. 

Another difference between the two bod- 
ies is their charisma. With their wispy tails 
and delicate halos, comets have a romantic 
allure to astronomers and laymen alike. But 
asteroids? They are largely unknown to the 
man on the street (how many asteroids can 
you name?). Some of that is changing. Once 
regarded as "vermin of the sky," these mini- 
planets have recently been getting the at- 
tention they deserve. With the advent of 
space travel, they have been upgraded in 
the minds of scientists from interplanetary 
clutter to orbiting, pollution-free resources 

108 OMNI 

of iron and nickel. Today they appear to be 
prime candidates for interplanetary mines. 
They have also been thought to contain 
valuable clues to the primordial matter of the 
universe. Asteroids have even been formally 
accused in the extinction of the dinosaurs. 

Some scientists now speculate that a hail 
of asteroids or comets may have snuffed out 
all the dinosaurs. The dust and water vapor 
thrown up into the atmosphere by" one or 
more such impacts, they argue, could have 
been dense enough to bring on an "aster- 
oidal winter" similar to the nuclear winter — a 
period of abnormal cold and darkness fol- 
lowing an exchange of missiles — theorized 
by Carl Sagan, Paul Ehrlich, and others. 

The clues come from the discovery that 
not all the asteroids stay in the asteroid belt. 
Some astronomers now believe that many 
have been tugged out of a specific part of 
the asteroid belt by the gravitational field of 
Jupiter. The orbits of these displaced aster- 
oids often become elongated to the point 
that they cross the paths of other planets, 

Ziffle fact is, 
the improbable has already 

happened often 
enough. Some 70 craters are 

thought to have 

. been gouged out of the earth 

by impacts 

from extraterrestrial bodies.^ 

ours included. And when planet and aster- 
oid arrive at the same place at the same time, 
it can ruin your whole day. 

Although it has been four score and seven 
years since the earth has seen that kind of 
day, experts say we should be prepared for 
another one. Self-preservation is one good 
reason for keeping an eye on the skies, but 
there are geopolitical concerns as well. 

"If an asteroid were to slam into the Middle 
East and it weren't recognized for what it 
was," suggests Laurence Taff, of MIT's Lin- 
coln Laboratory, "there might be a problem. 
Some of these nations shoot first and ask 
questions later." And the Planetary Science 
Institute's Chapman warns, 'An unexpected 
impact could be mistaken for a nuclear at- 
tack, with frightening consequences." 

"Already, one asteroid impact may have 
been mistaken for a nuclear bomb. On April 
9, 1984, an ominous mushroom cloud ap- 
peared in the night sky over the North Pa- 
cific. It was spotted by the crews of several 
airliners. One of them, Japan Air Lines flight 
36, declared an emergency and diverted to 
Elmendorf Air Force Base, at Anchorage. 
Alaska, for radioactivity tests. No radioactiv- 
ity -was found and — amid speculation of 

"secret underwater weapons tests" — the 
cloud remained a mystery. A year later an 
article in the journal Nature attributed the 
plume to a meteor exploding as it pene- 
trated a cloud deck. "If our explanation is 
correct," wrote gi?ophysicisto Andre Chang 
and James Burnetii, "the pilot's experience 
on the night of 9 April may be the first close 
encounter of an aircraft with a meteor." 

Preparing for such encounters is a real 
problem. We need to anticipate them well in 
advance. Once an asteroid enters the at- 
mosphere and leaves its trail of fire and 
smoke across the sky, people in the target 
area have a maximum of 20 seconds or so 
to duck and pray. Alternative defenses de- 
pend on an asteroid early-warning system, 
and some astronomers have started 
searches to locate the 1,000 Earth crossers 
(objects that intersect Earth's orbit) esti- 
mated to be out there. 

The world champion asteroid hunter — by 
a wide margin— is Eleanor Helin, planetary 
scientist at Caltech's famed Jet Propulsion 
Laboratory, in Pasadena, California. Of the 
60 Earth crossers discovered, Helin and her 
colleagues have found 20. The secret of her 
success? "I think it's because I'm persis- 
tent," she says simply. "It took me five or six 
months to find my first Earth crasser A lot of 
people would have given up in that time, but 
I look for these things routinely and regu- 
larly — up to five to ten nights in a row. " 

Asteroid hunting is not just a matter of 
peering into a telescope and waiting for an 
object to move across the stars — although 
this would work if you were endowed with 
spectacular eyesight, an infallible memory, 
and infinite patience. 

Traditionally, the way to do it has been to 
take two pictures of the same patch of sky 
at an interval ot a few minutes and then com- 
pare the two photographic plates until you 
find an object that has changed places. It's 
a tedious, painstaking process, but this is 
how Eleanor Helin has found her Earth- 
crossing asteroids over the last 13 years. 

Today a new computer-assisted method 
of discovering them is being tested, a tech- 
nique that will largely automate the search 
and discovery process. One center of activ- 
ity for the quest is in Tucson, about 300 miles 
due south of Meteor Crater. There, led by 
University of Arizona astronomers Tom Geh- 
rels and Jim Scotti, a group called Space- 
watch scouts for Earth-crossing asteroids at 
extremes of visual faintness. 

"Eleanor Helin and I are not competing," 
Gehrels explains. "She is searching at a cer- 
tain brightness level and covering a large 
part of the sky, and I'm covering a smaller 
slice of sky, looking for smaller objects." 
When outfitted with a new 2048 by 2048 
CCD (charge-coupled device — a large 
electronic camera), a microwave link, and 
other accoutrements, Gehrels expects to be 
discovering an average of ten Earth-cross- 
ing asteroids per year. 

Spacewatch is housed on Arizona's Kit! 
Peak, as part of the world's largest collection 
of optical telescopes. The 6,700-foot-high 
mountain, near the Mexican border, boasts 

16 separate observatory domes. Near sun- 
set, with the mountain casting a long shadow 
onto the desert floor, there's a sense of ex- 
citement as the astronomers' "day" begins. 
Observatory doors roll open, computers click 
on, lights are turned out. 

Gehrels is a crackerjack observer, an old 
hand from Palomar, Yerkes, and elsewhere. 
With red Vandyke goatee and mountain 
climber's short pants, Gehrels would be at 
home in the Swiss Alps. When the clouds 
block his view to the stars, he likes to sit high 
up with the telescope and relax. ("Come on 
up, you can't fall off," he tells visitors, who try 
to'run the other way.) At whimsical moments, 
he describes himself as the "inspector from 
Gila Bend," an outpost of civilization some- 
where among the sand and petroglyphs to 
the west. Tonight the inspector is looking tor 
lost asteroids. 

Setting up his apparatus, he explains how 
it works. At the focus of the telescope is a 
CCD, which is a light-sensifive silicon chip 
that transforms images of the sky into elec- 
tronic data and sends them to the computer 
for storage on tape. "We turn on the CCD 
and scan the sky for about thirty minutes," 
Gehrels says. "Then we turn it off, reset the 
telescope, and repeal the scan. The com- 
puter matches up the two scans and 'sub- 
tracts' one from the other, canceling the im- 
ages of everything that hasn't moved — all 
the fixed stars. What's left are the things that 
have moved — comets and asteroids." 

It sounds simple enough, but the process 
is involved. Tonight the Spacewafch camera 
will collect daia and store them on tape. To- 
morrow the tapes will go by courier to plan- 
etary scientist Jim Scotti, at the University of 
Arizona, in Tucson, who will run them through 
his analysis programs. 

Up near the open aperture of the observ- 
atory dome, silhouetted by stars brilliant 
against the blackness, Gehrels feeds coor- 
dinates to the telescope. If twists and turns 
on its gimbals as if it's wired to the sky. He 
first looks for reference stars on his video 
monitor, then squints up through the spot- 
ting scope to make sure the camera has the 
target in its sights. Satisfied, he hits a button 
io start the scan. Then he furns to gaze into 
the soft night air of Sonoran Mexico. 

Many tfmes during the course of the night, 
he will repeat the process, looking at differ- 
ent patches of sky. He's got new asteroids 
to find, new comets io look for, old ones to 
be recovered. Tom Gehrels — finder of lost 
asteroids — works until 4:30 a.m., when he 
pushes a button and the telescope dome 
rattles to a close. By now he's got a dozen 
computer tapes in canisters. 

Next morning at 10 o'clock Jim Scofti takes 
the tapes and starts loading them into a 
brace of Perkin-Elmer computers. Twenty- 
five years old and looking barely seventeen, 
Scotti wrote the program — 1,500 lines of 
Fortran — that will silt through the night's data. 
Instead of manually comparing one photo- 
graphic plate against another, Scotti's pro- 
gram processes sky scans automatically, 
electronically superimposing one scan on 
top of the other. The things thai match up — 
110 OMNI 

the fixed stars — are canceled, and what's 
left are the things that have changed posi- 
tion between the two scans. They are then 
displayed on a video screen. 

I ask Scotti if he gets excited when new 
asteroids magically appear on his display 
screen. "Usually not," he answers. "Most of 
them are just main-belt asteroids that you 
don't care about. Anyway, you won't know if 
it's a new object or not until you run an astro- 
metry program to compare if with all the 
known asteroids. Even then it may not be 
clear. The 'new' object may have been seen 
several times in the past but never been re- 
alized to be the same." 

The tapes are finished loading, and Scotti 
runs his data-reduction programs. The mo- 
ment of truth is at hand. On the computer- 
display screen an unusual-looking strip of 
sky appears: All the fixed stars have black 
dots in front of them, indicating that they've 
been automatically canceled — "sub- 
tracted" — by the computer. But one partic- 
ular blob of light has not been canceled. Is 

6/Ve found 

some asteroids that I thought 

initially were 

on a collision course with 

Earth. And 

I've asked myself, 'Now 

what are 

you going to do about this?^ 

it a new object? 

No. This is a false positive, a glitch, a re- 
sult of such quirks as atmospheric dust and 
turbulence, star halos, and so on. Scotti goes 
on to the next scan. 

The next picture comes up, and there's 
another uncanceled blob, also a glitch. And 
so is the bizarre streak of light in the frame 
that follows. But the fourth object is real. 

"It was fairly faint," Scotti says, "but it 
looked the same in all the scans, just like a 
real object. It takes experience to make the 
identification', though. Here's where a hu- 
man observer can't be eliminated." 

The dot on the display screen turns out to 
be a garden-variety asteroid in the main belt, 
certainly no danger to Earth. If it were an 
Earth crosser, then it would be reobserved 
on other nights until its orbital characteristics 
were well-known. To get an accurate orbit — 
one that would predict a possible impact with 
Earth — might take years of observations. 
The asteroid early-warning system is a long 
lead lime business. 

Primarily, asteroid hunters want to under- 
stand the solar system and to prepare for 
missions to the asteroids, when we will be 
exploring and mining these orbiting mother 

lodes. Saving the earth from killer mountains 
flying through the sky does not have top 
priority, but all of the sky hunters have con- 
sidered calamity. "I've found some asteroids 
that I thought — at least initially — were on a 
collision course with Earth, and I've asked 
myself, 'Now what ate you going to do about 
this?' " Helin confesses. 

For the momenl at least, there is nothing 
anyone can do. But it's not for lack of ideas. 
There was, first of all, Project Icarus, a stu- 
dent exercise for an MIT systems-engineer- 
ing class. Dreamed up in 1967 by Professor 
Paul Sandorff, of the school's department of 
aeronautics, the project challenged the stu- 
dents to imagine that a real asteroid, Icarus, 
would ram into the earth with an impact 
equivalent to a 500,000-megaton bomb blast 
unless something could be done to prevent 
it. After considering their options the class 
decided to launch a salvo of H-bomb war- 
heads at the inbound object and detonate 
them near its surface, causing Icarus to 
swerve from its course. 

More recently, in 1981, NASA held a con- 
ference at Snowmass, Colorado, to consider 
the threat posed by errant asteroids. A group 
of some 30 astronomers and space scien- 
tists — and a few weapons manufacturers' 
re presentati ves— al so thought that nuclear 
explosives were the answer. The scientists 
emphasized that their goal in using explo- 
sives was to deflect, not destroy, the incom- 
ing body. Shattering an asteroid into smaller 
chunks could create new problems. Ac- 
cording to participant Gehrels, the effect of 
that would be "converting a single bullet into 
a round of buckshot, which could be worse." 

Not every scheme has included driving 
the asteroid away. One forward-looking re- 
searcher has proposed deliberately reaim- 
ing asteroids so they collide with Earth. In 
1971 the late Samuel Herrick, an imaginative 
astrophysicist at UCLA, submitted a paper 
to the NASA publication Physical Studies of 
Minor Planets. Herrick claimed the orbit of 
the asteroid Geographos was such that it 
might collide with Earth by the year 2000. 
His suggestion was that as the one-kilome- 
ter-wide body approached Earth in 1985, we 
ought to split it in half with explosives. Then 
we would guide half to Earth, to a finely tuned 
impact in Central America. The benign col- 
lision would carve out a crater canal linking 
the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. 

To Herrick, Earth-approaching asteroids 
were not threats but opportunities. He 
pointed out that such a plan would bring bil- 
lions of dollars worth of nickel and rare ele- 
ments like platinum and gold to Earth. "Un- 
like earthquakes." he wrote, asteroids will be 
"predictable and controllable if we develop 
an adequate program for discovery, obser- 
vation, and determination." Today Helin, 
Gehrels, and other skygazers are develop- 
ing those very programs. 

Herrick's proposal was published post- 
humously, eight years after he had submit- 
ted it to NASA. His contemporaries had 
blocked its publication on the grounds that, 
according to one critic, it was "outrageously 
innovative" and " premature. "OQ 

Omni smarties, riflemen, 

the commonest noun, and a tower of cigar boxes 

By Scot Morris 

The Omni-Mega I.Q. Test, which appeared 
in this: column in April 1985, turned out to 
be an extremely popular feature. So far 
about 3.200 readers have sent in answers 
to the 48-item test, recognized by the 
Guinness Book oi World Records to be the 
hardest I.Q. test in the world. Ronald K 
Hoeflin, author of. the test, scored every entry 
and reports the following results. 

Entrants ranged in age from nine to 
eighty-five. The distribution of raw scores 
appears at right. The average (median) 
score on the test was 15, corresponding to 
an estimated I.Q. of 141. That means that 
the majority of Omni readers who took 
this test have. "genius-level" intelligence, 
above the cutoff for Mensa, the high- 
I.Q. society. (Mensa does not accept our 
test for membership applications, however, 
since it is untimed and unsupervised.) 
About 10 percent of the test takers were 
female. The highest scorer among them was 
Jane Clifton, a twenty-eight-year-old 
graduate psychology student at the Univer- 
sity of Waterloo, in Ontario. She got 40 
out of 48 on her first attempt and 44 on a 
second try. 

The -highest score achieved was 45, 
corresponding to an estimated I.Q. of 177, 
or "one in a million," by Herbert Taylor, 
fifty-seven, a research associate professor 
at the University of. Southern California 
(USC), in Los Angeles. (He missed only 
questions 20, 21, and 23.) Taylor got his 
Ph.D. in 1981. at age fifty-three. His special- 
ties are coded communications and 
combinatorial geometry. He tells us that he 
was once ranked as the top U.S. player 
of go (with a level of fourth dan), one of 
the three top non-Oriental players in the 
world (the other two were in Europe). He. 
coaulhored Unscrambling the Cube, an 
early Rubik's cube book, in 1981 (the intro- 
duction to which was written by Solomon 
Golomb— see below). Taylor coached 
Minh Thai, a Vietnam refugee, on Rubik's 
cube techniques. Thai, won the 1982 tourney ■ 
in Budapest and is listed in Guinness as 
the world's top cube solver, at 22.95 
seconds. He. is now a senior at USd 

Three readers scored 44 on their first 
attempt (some improved their scores to this 
level after a second, third, or fourth try at 

112 OMNI 

the test, but we are counting only first 
attempts). The first to do this was Solomon 
Golomb, professor of electrical engineering 
and mathematics at USC. His office, 
coincidentally, is next to Herbert Taylor's. 
Golomb is well-known to fans of recreational 
mathematics as the author of Poiyominoes, 
published in 1965, and the inventor of 
pentominoes, a set of the 12 p'ossible.ways 
in which five squares can be arranged, 
which has become, the basis of a'whole array 
of geometric puzzles. 

The second and youngest person to 
achieve a score of 44 on the first try was 
Rick Rosner, twenty-five, a physics major at 
the University of Colorado, in Boulder. In 
high school he was student body president, 
with nearly an A. average and a combined 
verbal-math SAT score of 1550. He was 
also, as he puts it, "a nerd." Instead. of 
accepting an offer from an Ivy League 
college, he faked some transcripts, moved 
to another- city, and became a high-school 
senior again,- hoping to shed his "nerd" 
image. He planned to become, a jock and, 
not so incidentally, to lose his virginity. 
He did the former, but not the latter. That 

milestone eluded him until college'. As for 
becoming a.nonnerd, Rosner now works as 
a bouncer in three local bars, a male 
stripper in one, and a roller-skating cocktail 
waiter in another. 

The third 44rScorer Was a surprise: John 
H. Sununu, the governor of New 
Hampshire. He has a Ph.D. from MIT. He 
says he found a. well-read copy of Omni on 
an airplane and got hooked by the test 
but couldn't devote much time to it until after 
his state legislature adjourned for the 
summer. "This test," Governor Sununu wrote, 
"was one of the most enjoyable exercises 
I have gone through in some time ... a 
superbly stimulating diversion." 

The regular distribution of scores and 
the fact that no high scorers missed any one 
problem significantly more than any other 
confirms our contention that the test is 
ultimately fair, brilliantly conceived, and 
genuinely the hardest I.Q. test ever printed. 
If you missed the Omni- Mega test and 
would like to try your hand at it, the April 
1985 issue can be ordered for $4 from 
Omni Back Issues, 1965 Broadway, New 
York, NY 10023-5965. 


Omni Competition #10, the results of 
which appeared in June 1980, was for 

■unsolved problems for which prizes should 
be offered (see "Prizes," December 1979), 
Our first runner-up idea was from Dan 
Shine,. of Cincinnati, who offered $100 for 
the solution to a nagging, unsolved mathe- 
matical problem. The first correct answer 
was from Charles Kl.uepiel, of New York, 
who won the money and later published an 
expanded version of his solution in the 
Journal of Recreational Mathematics in 1981 . 

Shine recently wrote us with a similar, but 
more difficult, problem: N riflemen are 
distributed at random spots in a bounded 
region on a plane. At a signal, each one 
shoots at and kills his nearest neighbor. 
What is the expected number of riflemen 
left alive?N is so large, that the Iraction of 
riflemen near the boundary is negligible. 

This problem was first posed by Robert 
Abilock and appeared in the American 
Mathematical Monthly (AMM) in 1967, 

■ Almost two decades later it is still unsolved, 
and that strikes us as unusual for a problem 
that is sosimple to state. 

■ The one- dimensional version isn't difficult. 
In the case of randomly distributed birds 
on a wire, each one watching its nearest 
neighbor, half of the birds will be watched 
by one bird, one quarter will be watched by 
two birds, and one quarter will be 
unwatched. So the answer in one dimension 
is one quarter. The three-dimensional 
version will obviously be much harder, in 
our galaxy,. if each star destroys its nearest 
neighbor, how many stars remain? Fortu- 
nately for us, old Sol will be among the 
survivors ol this hypothetical holocaust . 
because Alpha Centauri C {the nearest star 
to us) is part of a multiple-star system, 
This three-dimensional problem appears to 
be so difficult as to be virtually unsolvabie 
in the near future, but the two-dimensional 
version should be within reach. Omni 

will pay $500. to the first person who sends 
a solution deemed correct by our judge, 
a former problem editor of the Journal • 
of Recreational Mathematics. Send your 
entry to: Omni Rifle Puzzle, 1965 Broadway, 
New York, NY 10023-5965. 


Various surveys have been made of the 
words used in English writing, with 
rankings from the most common words to- 
the least common. The American Heritage 
Word Frequency Book (John B. Carroll, 
Peter Davies, and Barry Rickman, Houghton- 
Mifflin, 1971) and Computational Analysis 
of Present-Day American English (Henry 
Kucera and.W. Nelson Francis, Brown 
University Press, 1967) are used by educa- 
tors in writing books that contain, say, 
only words from the top 200 for children of 
one age and only words from the top 500 
or 1,000 for children at a higher level. Both 
books were compiled by tallying word 
usage in textbooks, popular fiction and 
nonficlion books, newspapers, and 
magazines. According to Kucera and 
Francis the five most common words in 
English-, in order, are the, be, of,, and, and a. 
Carroll's top five are similar: the, of, and, 
a, and. to. The quiz question of the month, 
suggested to us by Douglas Hofstadter, is, 
What is the most common noun in English? 
You have to go down to sixty-seventh place 

in Kucera and Francis before you find a 
word that is most commonly used as a 
noun, and to sixty-ninth in Carrol era/, to 
find the most common noun, but both 
books agree on the same word. 

What is the most common noun in 
English? Since this is the sort of question 
that deserves some time for thought, we'll 
save the answer for next month. 

If you know your W. C. Fields movies, 
you remember the scene in The Old 
Fashioned Way in which Fields, as "The 
Great McGonigle," manipulated 11 cigar 
boxes' into a precarious tower. Until recently 
no one had explored the upper iimits of 
this balancing act, but now eighteen-year- 
old Bruce Block, in St. Joseph, Michigan, 
has tried to see how tar the principle could 
be taken. He was the first to balance 24 
cigar boxes in performance. Then, recently, 
he made a quantum leap to a 40-box 
stack (shown in the photograph at left), a 
world record recognized in Guinness. 
He uses unaltered King Edwards Imperial 
cigar boxes They are each 2.5 inches 
high and 8.25 inches long, so unfortunately 
the dimensions aren't evenly divisible — 
otherwise he might be able to create some 
even more outrageous balancing acts. It 
takes Block about two minutes to set up his 
40-box stack, but then he can keep it 
balanced on his chin indefinitely — or until 
the weight (about 10 pounds) gets to him. 

What's next? It seems that the next 
step after a 40-box stack will not be 41 or 
45 or 50 or any such simple addition. Since 
new boxes must be added a layer, at a 
time, with'support boxes to hold them up 
and all of them balanced left and right 
to keep the center of gravity over the bottom 
support, the- next number to try will be 68! 


In our "Sevens Quiz" in October, question 
16C, we said that Wally Schirra was the 
only one of the original seven astronauts in 

the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. 
As several readers noted, Gus Grissom 
also participated in all three programs, 
though a tragic fire in 1967 prevented him 
from ever flying an Apollo 

Alf; ..:!■: .■!<■.:! I': 1 '.,, 1 . i 

Comet Haiiey hasD-ico again rsu.ivr-ec te 
: aith's g ■■: ■ 'Howi u :!s ' ■; 

.i,::i.\ .. i ■>, . .11 :■:■ :■.' 

'most agree, including Dr. Douglas. Dew, 
i,;'i :.. . oi : i vi : !■■. . ■ . ■: ■ !■■,■■. 
Pasadena, Cai'.io-nia. But Dr. Dew-sees it ■ 
.as more thai s chance for casual vowing or 
scisniilic study. He'd like ioyaka this cppcr- 
. .'unity 10 blow Halisy's Comet out oi the shy. 
■■ ,r!o ■■■ s:e ■.'■'■ ■ ■■ 
there-are- doers." says Dew. ".! guess !Ve 
always beer; a dees'." 
True to his «vorri. Dr. Daw has broegl 

:" ■ : ' i i'iii ■ 
■ho share his vision-of a ' 
:rse; They've formed ;2 group 
■ "r'COTisrHaitey^LOGB)'' 
(not to be confuse-;'- w;ih ai'iomer org -mi :■:«.- 

:..!■■■ iVV.r. ■ .i ■ ■■ ■■ 


By-Parker SermeO. : 

^Df. Dew has 

■' brought together 200 

... .astronomers, and teachers 


vis!onota Halieyiess \- . 
.'. universe to form 
\ Lights OuCfor Comet Hailey3 

:. Dew 


u .■■■;■' ■ . : i ■ 

h. iu i! oui i is: si' -i' i. : ■ ving -the 

comet easier," Dew explains' "We wan' 

tO- liCiOtSOUU'' 

The'i .■■■■■ ' :■ " ■ icria; 

. who are. fed up wi:h ail the 'Halloybaico 11 ' 
■ surrounding the comet. T'hoir apiis to 
Cjenersii:0- ! -is corr-ei mania, 
ving ail toe ci-ier comets a 
3ys Dev/ 
s just one example I comet 
■':.;■: jef-Jaroes 
issor at the University oi 
waukee- ' : mean, here 

.' i:.|. .!.;;. , i n ). ■ ,■ i 

!3S Of- 

;dse lights? Mugging.,.. .; 
■ people. everywhere 
B .fanaiicai.uibanites 
-:■ me ■!.■ ■•if?-!-./ Dv-A-.t ' .; ■. 

sssiv'e Ha! ley's hoopla 
=t by iookmg.a't the 
. . .,. a az:nes and newspapers 
featuring the comet. . 

All it:!:- for wnai's bases w a big : cki !.;-.' 
snowba I Dew oo npian : So Lai ■■.. 

pl.;b:i! ! .' 13; .' ■ i ■■!! 

actual comet.:" ■.'■'" 

Worse yev ".'.it ■ < . . .'. is l'ie 

mcessan: an Using n . ink ■. 

■ie practical viewing 

j same oid histar'-ca. 

>ji when ; see advertisements 

■ I' IT ICiSi ■ ' ' :'i ■ ■ ■■ 

:%:s'tn^.'co.KrTCOP<!t-TH, i:say 
It's time to get lid of thai' 
i for all ' 

regenerations all 
"or LOCH- believe 
easpos l- if 

c another hOCH member, 

;.. me o ■ ,' i: ',, 
;■ ;";;- ::■- . J ■ . 

san errpoyeo oi !: ormLao. he 
: . ; had rsthai > .p usnee 

'.'; OOn'tkl ■■ ;■■' hi w i . ' " ■ ' ' ■ ■ ■ i 

any work cone," says Sagan "The phones'- 

;, ■ , on hi .; ■ ■,'!■:■ i i ■ ■ qui P"! 

'Where do I look, -o see rt 9 " 'When do I 
look?' SI' ouc : use a piece .0; exposed film 
or. something? Is il. A'Aiu-easo 0; HAL : ~ 
■ease?' lis!! W s;-a:o.bi oui: book. -how 
shcuidl know? I'm the. janitor ' ! ' '. 

Historically, comeic have often been 

:■;■■: ■■ ■ ,n. members of 
lOCH think this may he [rue. 

"We car i > t ■■■' boii ■ an < ohne.ction 
admns Dew.'iBut -.h[nk ; of all'that's ' 
happened sinc'elh'e iamt tin-'s' Hal ley's- 
Comet sheweq up:.!!":e Dep'ossioni Proh- 
biticn. two v*i 

riots VVs.'c'-QSle e ; pp:es : y.pples' prepp>ies 
-,or. t ■ , ■!: ■ ■: ■' ■:. ' 

::■/::.!. L'JOi ■■! ■: ' ' '■■ '■ :| ■ 'I i'il ; 'V 
. ., ■■:■■■■;; .■.,- ■ ■. : isi one oi 

these events, tha'alc'r" justify .blowing 

if to Kingdom Gome/' ■ :--, y 

Pher: ,1 'i. i e !/ n;i .'93- ts 

■ 1 e 

isic;— ci.aima : 
Szczewski . Think about iy Do:ycu remem- 
ber anv bio ivls I rem 19'0? And'how 'bou\ 

: |. ■ 1 .I I.. 1 !■■, n ■ 1 '":i ■:■.;■ ■ IT IT 'I , 0'_- 


music 0; the Seveivie^'f 1 Banhman Turner 

i ;,.'■.■!:■■;■ ■ .■ pt' ■:■ ■: u ' shudder 

.even to.menion ii- -disco: I say cbliieraling 
H'afley's is:a srnai; p~ ] ce -o oaytoprevent 

>- ■ i r ! : ;.; |.,. : ' 

"We'vebeen valking to fiio Poniagon for 
some time now. anoi ip&y'ro ^ery -hieresfed 

:Hakeyis Cornet as :a ; go; practice -for some 

.■■■!.!■.. ,!!!■::: !■/ Ii iner 

develoi: n - ?.-:;.," says Dew Thai way we 

■e— or,, rather 
vvift'i oneriiaii-aneroy laser o^sst. ■ 

-r-Joi. 01 iiy would ii be an effective' practical 
■:■■■■■ ftouid aiso ensure us a. proud 

place in ine 1 yboo;'. a; li'is nai oi the 
finallj ■! .; psi . "v . ' ,i ■■ . : 
.' While rrdiiarv iTi^c'ais are enthusiastic. 

■ according to Dew, officials fiom ine State 

■ 1 i ;:!■■■.;■ :..;■.■■.■ 01' :ern c,e ; 

ciipiomal .■:■.:■■ i'i ■..■. fun iei 
star-wars testing, £inr.;a iuinvolves: blowing 

■ ,. ■, ■ ■ 1. .: ■■ ii .; t. '!■.■■ 1 ,' VTV., ' tnion 
have ■aoentynibons to observe. 
Dew. however,' remains undaunted In his 

■ bGCHjs unable to o:ad>cafetheoomet, ws 
have an alternate piano hesays. ■ 

.- "somelhingoiir group ai-WtlT whipped up " 

i ■:■; 1. ; !'■ . m 11 :/■ .1 

■ ■! .-=■ i ■:■■■: s 1 . . 1 lt 1 1 . : ■ 

' !■'!. :| ■■■:■■::■ 

ll-.O C 

. .smali.iobe- seen t'om Darth put big-enough 
for ;. 

Ether v/ay, u^ v-ior-J stopunD the 
comet is forever cul of Sight. And wh;ie, : n 
his opinion, bofti options have their advan- 
tages. Dow has sciear favorite. Which 
ipp'o ■'■ . "■' ilri !■■ i 1 - ■ !■■ 11 ■ 

"Hocomefi':Oq :